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FANTASY FICTION 



CONJURE WIFE by Fritz Leiber, Jr. 

All women carry handbags as big as young suitcases, full of bits of Ibis 
— oddments of that. Powder and rouge and lipstick, recipes and lormulas. 
But — maybe those formulas aren't all cake and cookie recipes. Maybe not 
all those powders are cosmetics. A bit of magic, a little witchcraft, mixed 
in — graveyard dirt and perfume, formulas for lJotlie's Cake and How lo 



THE GOLDEN BRIDLE by Jane Rice 

A tale of a bridle, a strange bridle picked up in a street 
in Tijuana — and of a jockey who could not lose while 
be used that bridle nor— give the bridle away. But more 
than the bridle's tale, it is a piece of beautiful writing. 





NO GREATER LOVE by Henry Kuttner 

He was a man to begin with, but a rat and a louse tor 
all of that. The thing he stole from the strange little 
shop was a charm, a love charm that made him immune 
because everyone loved him too much to harm him. 
Until be picked the wrong role— 








THE GIFTIE GIEN by Malcolm Jameson 

Bobbie Burns asked that giftie — but Jameson suggests that 
it might serve a purpose other than pleasure. Instruction 
of a sort, yes. Yet something Hell could use for its own 
ends. But— wonder what your own resultant form 
would be? 












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D S ' 



Contents for April , 1943 , VoL VI, No. 6 

John W. Campbell, Jr., Editor, Catherine Tarrant, Asst. Ed. 



Novel r 

CONJURE WIFE . . . Frit* L«iber. Jr. '9 

Every woman carries a monstrous handbag* full of odds and ends, j 

cosmetics, little boxe9 and jars — and, perhaps, like Tansy’s, full of 
the little things a conjure wife needs in her witch work! 



Novelette 

t 

NO GREATER LOVE Henry Kuttntr 105 

He was a crook, and an utterly selfish rat. But the thing he’d 
. x. stolen was a love charm— a thing that made anyone near him love 

him. So none could willingly hurt him. Except one item he’d 
overlooked— 

Short Stories 

THE GOLDEN BRIDLE Jane Rico 79 

He got the bridle in a Mexican street — dropped by its owner. It 
made him a professional jockey — he couldn’t lose a race. Couldn’t, 
even when he wanted to, save at a terrible price. 

THE GIFTIE GIEN • • . . • • . . . Malcolm Jomeson 94 

But what Bobbie Burns said was not “as anither sees us,” but “as 
ithers see u9.” It makes a difference — but can be worse. 



Readers 9 Departments 

OF THINGS BEYOND . . . V . , . . * „ o 6 

BOOK REVIEWS • . . 103 



Illustrations by: Alfred, Kramer and Or ban. 






NEXT ISSUE 
ON SALE 
APRIL 23rd 
36 c PER COPT 

Printed In tba U.O.A. 



•Bimonthly publication Issued by Street 4 Smith Publications. Incorporated, 79 Seventh 
Avenue, New York City. Allen L. Grammer, President; Henry W. Ralston, Vice 
President; Gerald H. Smith. Secretary and Treasurer. Copyright, 1943, In U. 8. A. 
and Great Britain by 8treet A 8mlth Publications. Inc. The editorial contents 
el this mao&ilne have not been published before, are protected by copyright 
and cannot do reprinted without the publisher's permission. All stories In this 
mapailne are fiction. No actual persons are designated either by name or 
character. Any similarity Is coincidental. We cannot accept responsibility for unto 
Halted manuscripts or artwork. Any material submitted must Include return postage 



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Herr Schickelgruber’s New Order reaches 
even into the realm of fantasy. The man most 
Americans most want to meet has succeeded, 
at least, in bringing about a change in Un- 
known Worlds that I don't like, you won’t like, 
and nobody will particularly enjoy. Begin- 
ning next issue, Unknown Worlds starts taking 
into account the several different rationing 
provisions now necessary. 

First, a brief review of how the mechanical 
end of manufacturing a magazine is worked. 

The author’s manuscript, after editing, is 
sent to the composing room, where it is set in 
type on Linotype machines. (The type metal 
is an alloy of tin, lead, bismuth and antimony. 
Tin’s a precious metal dearer than gold.) The 
Linotype slugs, assembled in galleys, are 
printed in proofs which are read and cor- 
rected, measured out into pages, and the Lino- 
type slugs rearranged into page form. 

From that point, two processes are possible. 
One; the stereotype method, involves making 
a sort of papier-mache matte that reproduces 
the type with surprising sharpness and fidelity. 
From the paper form, a type-metal casting can 
be made in a special casting machine — a cast 
which is, however, curved to fit the rolls of 
printing presses instead of being flat, as the 
Linotype slugs necessarily are. 

By this method, the printing surface actu- 
ally used on the rolls is achieved by using 
practically nothing but type metal — a material 
which can, of course, be remelted into ingots^ 
, for further duty when the issue is printed. 

The second method of getting the printing 
surface involves electrotypes. In this, the 
Linotype slugs, assembled into page forms, are 
pressed into a plate heavily coated with wax. 
The wax impression is . dusted with finely 
ground iron and graphite powder to make it 
carry electricity, and put in a copper-plating 
bath. The electrolytic deposit of copper is 
built up till a fairly strong shell is made, when 
it is stripped off the wax, a layer of tinfoil 
pressed into it, and a mass of type-metal cast 
on to give it the necessary mechanical rigidity 
and strength. The copper itself is too soft a 
metal to stand the heavy wear of the presses, 
and is, therefore, nickel-plated to protect it. 
(The plating, incidentally, is not the familiar 



shiny nickel, but a dull, steel-gray, hard, tough 
layer deposited by a special type of electro- 
lytic bath.) 

Hm-m-m— so far, that has used tin, copper 
and nickel. The cuts for the magazine are 
made, necessarily, on silver-sensitized zinc 
plates. That makes five of the topmost critical 
metals. 

We cannot go on using electrotypes for Un- 
known Worlds — and to continue the large-size 
page, we would have to, for we have not, and 
cannot get now, a stereotype machine capable 
of casting a plate of this size. 

Every publisher has been asked to cut the 
paper consumption of his company ‘by ten 
percent. 

It would save silver and zinc if the cuts used 
in the magazine ,were smaller in area. 

These facts add up to one answer — the 
smaller, standard-size magazine. And there’s 
another to reinforce it. The issue of the maga- 
zine you now hold may hang together long 
enough for you to finish reading it, if you 
handle magazines reasonably carefully. If not, 
it will certainly start shedding its pages. 
There is only one of the tin-coated steel-wire 
staples necessary to hold the pages in place 
in the binding; there should be two. 

In the small-size magazine, we will begin the 
use of a different type of binding — the glued 
fastening similar to that used on books. It 
won’t be as good as the two-staple-and-glue 
.method used earlier, but it will not require 
critical materials, and will give reasonable 
strength and solidity. . 

The contracted Unknown Worlds of the New 
Order will be smaller in size, but have one, hun- 
dred and sixty pages. Those pages will not be 
quite as airy and readable as of old; we are 
going to use a smaller, more compactly set type, 
and take a nibble off each margin to increase 
the wordage. We haven’t yet seen a made-up 
issue of the new size, but I believe that the 
wordage will be practically the same in thd 
small size, one-hundred-sixty-page edition as 
in the present format. 

And, while we may be limited on quantity 
and quality of physical materials — Lord knows, 
we aren’t selling physical realities! 

The Editor,. 



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9 



MIAMEIKC and witchcraft have, dovm the ages, been the domain of 
woman. Potions and . spells, charms and counter-charms. The para- 
phernalia of witchcraft has long since gone from our culture, though — 
But — what are all those odds and ends women carry in their handbags? 



[Illustrated by Kramer 



i. 

“I keep wondering if she knows about Us,” 
said the woman with black button eyes. She 
played the queen of spades. 

The queen of hearts trumped the queen of 
spades. “You can put your mind at rest,” 
said the silver-haired woman sweetly, gather- 
ing in the trick. “She doesn’t. Tansy Saylor 
plays a lone hand. Like most women, she 
thinks she’s the Only One. Co-operation such 
as ours is rare.” 

“But I’m afraid of her. Oh, I know she 
hasn’t upset the Balance, and uses only Pro- 
tective Procedures. But she isn’t our kind. 
Neither is her husband. They don’t belong.” 

The silver-haired woman nodded primly, 
peering through her thick glasses at the dummy 
with the empty chair behind it. “I agree. The 
Saylors are a disgrace to the Hempnell faculty. 
Modern. No sense of the traditional decen- 
cies.” 

“Yes, and she wants to make him president 
of Hempnell. She wants him to dictate to our 
husbands. She wants to condescend to us.” 



“This talk gets nowhere,” broke in the stout, 
red-haired woman gruffly. “The point is that 
her Protective Procedures are effective — many 
things would have happened to the Saylors 
during the last ten years if they weren’t. And 
she hasn’t made the mistake of upsetting the 
Balance. So what can we three do about it?” 

“Oh, the Balance!” said the woman with 
black button eyes, throwing down her last 
two cards. “Sometimes I think we ought to 
upset it ourselves.” She evaded the shocked 
glance of the silver-haired woman. “We’ve 
our Sounds, and our Pictures, and our Num- 
bers, and our Cards.- We could finish the 
Saylors in a whiff. There’s such a neat trick 
with cards I’ve just learned. Here, let me 
show you — ” She slipped a dozen shiny paste- 
board oblongs out of her purse. They had 
the conventional backs, but their faces bore 
representations of a cryptic sort. 

“Stop that!” The silver-haired woman 
stretched out fluttering hands. 

“Put them away!” ordered the stout woman 
harshly. She glanced at the door. “Quickly!” 
- But the eyes ,of the little man who ambled 



0 . UNKNOWN WORLDS 

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in weje not inquisitive. With white beard and 
amiable smile, he looked almost benign, in an 
absent-minded sort of way. 

“I don't suppose you played much bridge 
while I was gone,” he observed with mild jo- 
viality. 

The silver-haired woman’s laughter trilled 
sweetly. “It’s his little joke. He always pre- 
tends that all women are fearful gossips. Well, 
at least I made the contract, dear. Four 
hearts.” 

His eyes twinkled. “Very commendable.” 
He settled himself in the empty chair. “Still 
I imagine the three of you managed to find 

- time for some very dark and devious plot- 
ting — ” He chuckled innocently, 

Norman Saylor, professor of ethnology at 
Hempnell College, was not the sort of man 
to go snooping around in his wife’s dressing 
room. That was partly the reason why he 
did it. He was sure nothing could touch the 
security of the relationship between him and 
Tansy. 

The house was very quiet. Spring sunshine 
and balmy air were sluicing gently through 
the bedroom windows. It wasn’t five min- 
utes since he had put in the final staccato burst 
of typing on his “Negro Recruit” brochure for 
the War Office. It looked as if for once they 
would have a lazy evening to themselves. 

Totem, the cat, rose from her sumwarmed 
spot on the neatly piled silk quilt and in- 
dulged in a titanic, disruptive-looking yawn, 

- neatly folded her white paws under her black 
waistcoat, and stared solemnly at NormanT 
Norman copied her yawn, and felt a partial 
unkinking of the twelve-work-hours-a-day ten- 
sion that had traced lines on his chunky face 
and smudged shadows under his clear, yellow- 
brown eyes. Such moments as this, did not 
come often these days, but when they did 
come, they sure felt good. 

The door of Tansy’s dressing room stood 
invitingly open. It was a tiny room, just a 
big closet, with no windows. But it was more 
than a rack of dresses and a creamy dressing 
table. It was Tansy. On the neat side, but 
not fussy. A slight pleasant disorder. Very 
sane— he wondered why that particular word 
came to his mind, but it hit the spot. A faint 
perfume conjured up amiable memories. 

He studied the photographs on either side 
of the mirror. One of Tansy and himself in 
modified Indian costume, from three summers 
back when he had been studying the Yumas. 

UNKNOWN WORLDS 



They both looked rather solemn. Another, 
slightly faded, of an uproarious Negro bap- 
tizing in midriver. That was from when he 
had held the Hazelton Fellowship and been 
gathering material for his “Social Patterns of 
the Southern Negro” and his later “Feminine 
Element in Superstition.” Tansy had done 
more work than two secretaries that busy year 
when he was hammering out a reputation. 

There was an ample array of cosmetics — 
Tansy had been the first of the Hempnell fac- 
ulty wives to use lipstick and lacquer her nails; 
there had been covert criticism and talk of 
“setting the students a bad example,” but 
she had stuck it out. Flanked by cold-cream 
jars was a photograph of himself, with a little 
pile of small change, dimes and quarters, in 
front of it. ( 

Idly he slid out a drawer, scanned the pile 
of stocking rolls, pushed it in, pulled at an- 
other, which jammed n so he had to give it a 
sharp tug. A large cardboard box toward the 
back caught his eyes. He edged up the cover 
and took out one of the tiny glass-stoppered 
bottles. What sort of cosmetic would this be? 
Too dark for face powder? More like a geolo- 
gist’s soil specimen. An ingredient for a mud 
pack? 

The dry, dark-brown granules shifted 
smoothly, like sand in an hourglass, as he ro- 
tated the glass cylinder. The label appeared, 
in Tansy’s clear script. “Julia Trock, Rose- 
land.” A cosmetician? Was Roseland a part 
of the name, or a place? And why should the 
idea that it might be a place seem distaste- 
ful? His hand knocked aside the cardboard 
cover as he reached for a second bottle, identi- 
cal with the first, except that the contents 
had a somewhat reddish tinge, and the label 
read, “Philip Lassiter, Hill.” A third, contents 
same color as the first: “J. P. Thorndyke, Rose- 
land.” Then a handful, quickly snatched up, 
of three: “Emelyn Scatterday, Roseland.” 
“Mortimer Pope, Hill.” “The Rev. Bufort 
Ames, Roseland.” 

The silence in the house grew thunderous; 
even the sunlight seemed to sizzle and fry, 
as his mind rose to a sudden pitch of concen- 
tration on the puzzle. “Roseland and Hill, 
'‘Roseland and Hill, Roseland and Hill,” like a 
nursery rhyme somehow turned nasty, making 
the glass cylinders repugnant to his fingers. 
“Roseland Hill—” 

Abruptly the answer came. 

The two local cemeteries. 

Graveyard dirt. 



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Soil specimens all right. Graveyard dirt 
from particular graves. A chief ingredient of 
Negro conjure magic. 

With a soft thud Totem landed on the table 
and began to sniff inquisitively at the bottles, 
but sprang away as Norman plunged his hand 
into the drawer. He felt smaller boxes be- 
hind the big one, yanked suddenly at the 
whole drawer, so it fell to the floor. In one 
of the boxes were bent, rusty, worn bits of 
iron — horseshoe nails. In the other were 
calling-card envelopes, filled with snippings of 
hair, each labeled like the bottles, but some 
of these names he knew. And in one — finger- 
nail clippings. 

In the third drawer he drew blank. But 
the fourth yielded a varied harvest. Packets 
of small dried leaves and powdered vegetable 
matter — so that was what came from Tansy’s 
herb garden along with kitchen seasonings? 
Vervain, vinmoin, devil’s snuff. Bits of lode- 
stone, iron filings clinging to them. Goose 
quills which spilled quicksilver when he shook 
them. Small squares of flannel, the sort that 
Negro conjure doctors employed for their 
“tricken bags” or “hands.” A box of old sil- 
ver coins and silver filings — strong protective 
magic; giving significance to the coins, all sil- 
ver, in front of his photograph. 

But Tansy was so sane — so healthily con- 
temptuous of palmistry, astrology, numerology 
and all the other superstitious fads. A hard- 
headed New Englander. So well versed, from 
her work with him, in the psychological back- 
ground of superstition and primitive magic. 
And yet — 

He found himself thumbing through a dog- 
eared copy of his own “Parallelisms in Super- 
stition and Neurosis.” It looked like the one 
he had lost around the house — was it eight 
years ago? Beside a formula for conjuration 
was a marginal notation in Tansy’s script: 
“Doesn’t work. Substitute copper filings for 
brass. Try in dark of moon instead of full.” 

“Norman — ” 

Tansy was standing in the doorway, her 
hand stopped in the moment of drawing off 
the little half hat of deep-rose felt that matched 
her trim dress. 

Never before had he had such a feeling 
that a human face was only an arbitrary ar- 
rangement of curved surfaces and colors. The 
tapering chin — an ellipsoid. The full lips — 
a complex arrangement of cycloids and other 
curves. The eyes — white spheres inscribed 



with gray-green circles centered with black. 
Without familiarity or significance. And yet, 
in the same instant he felt that it was des- 
perately important that he spy out a signifi- 
cance. For a, faint distortion of those angles 
and curves — a distortion so subtle as to be 
almost indiscernible — might signify . . . yes, 
why not say it? . . . insanity. 

The ghost of a smile curved Tansy’s lips, 
and familiarity flooded back into her face. 

“So you’ve found out,” she sighed. And 
although it seemed incredible, he thought she 
sighed with relief. 

For a moment he stood there confused, like 
a district attorney caught arranging evidence. 
Then he began his cross-examination. 

“It all started so foolishly,” she was saying 
soon. “Just before you came to Hempnell. 
I felt it was tremendously important that you 
get the appointment and just to relieve my 
nerves — no other reason — I did silly things. 
Put mild curses on the two other applicants, 
to confuse their thoughts during the inter- 
views. I got the curses from your notes. I 
surrounded you with a web of protective magic, 
charmed the sociology faculty to make them 
regard you favorably. 

“Well, you got' the job, and I forgot all 
about my stupid private joke. 

“Then, when your first book was at . the 
publishers — you remember, Norm, in 1930 
■ — I tried again. We were so sure it would 
be rejected. 1 was planning to tell you all 
about my idiotic conjures as soon as it came 
back, so at least we’d have a laugh. But it 
was accepted. And I didn’t tell you. 

“Then in 1931, when you had pneumonia. 
I didn’t want to, because it was too serious 
this time, but you got worse and I couldn’t 
help myself. And you got well. 

“That was the real beginning. Not that 
I was certain — I’ve never been certain — but I 
didn’t dare take chances. Careers hang on 
such little strings, and Hempnell can be so 
vindictive. You know. 

“But I wasn’t superstitious. No, I wasn’t! 
At least, I didn’t have what you’d call the 
superstitious feeling. In a twisted logical way, 
I was trying to be empirical. I judged every- 
thing by results, step by step. 

“And of course, when I say empirical, I 
don’t mean experimental. I didn’t dare to 
omit any charms as a test, because I was too 
afraid of something going wrong. You can’t 
be experimental about someone you love, any 
more than a sane sociologist would induce 



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/ 



fascism in his own country just to study the 
consequences.” 

He listened, his mind working like a tele- 
phone exchange during an emergency, catch- 
ing a thousand hidden connections in trivial 
memories of his life and Tansy’s. Whenever 
she paused, he had a question to hammer at 
her. 

“Those mirror decorations on your dresses, 
and belts, and handbags— why?” 

She nodded, tiredly. “Yes; that’s it. To 
ward off evil spirits, by reflecting them. I got 
the idea from Tibetan devil masks. Yes, and 
the reason I always use hooks and eyes is — 
you’ve guessed — to catch evil spirits that try 
to get at me.” 

The room was dark by the time Tansy had 
finished the catalogue of her activities at Hemp- 
nell, and said, “So. you see, I’ve never been 
sure. I’ve wanted to stop, but there’s been 
too much at stake. It always worked — or did 
as soon as I made the proper corrections in 
the charms, I’ve wanted to tell you, but I’ve.; 
never dared. Now that you know, I’m glad.” 

The voice was very tired now. 

Then, in the darkness he began his argu- 
ment. It was the old, old argument of science 
against primitive ignorance, but he brought 
it home to her with careful persuasiveness. 
The argument which starts out with a demon- 
stration that, superstition is only mistaken em- 
piricism, and ends with psychoanalysis. 

“Didn’t it really begin much earlier than 
Hempnell, Tansy?” he asked at one point. 
“I mean, the seeds of it?” 

“No. Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps. I’ve 
childhood memories of dark moments. Sus- 
picions. Queer things people could do. Hints 
from I don’t know where. But nothing cer- 
tain. I just can’t remember. I don’t know.” 

Only once did the tired voice grow vehe- 
ment. 

“But I tell you I never tried to kill, or even 
to injure in a physical way! Never! Only 
to confuse or hinder people when they were, 
working against you. It’s terribly important 
that you understand this, Norman. Nine 
tenths of my magic was purely protective. To 
ward off evil.” 

He felt pettishly exasperated at this an- 
swer. What difference did it make whether 
or not she had tried to kill? It was all equally 
nonsense. And why should she harp on her 
efforts to protect him, as if he were some sort 
of incompetent? For a moment it occurred to 



him that, from one point of view, he had been 
very lucky in his career. He abruptly put aside 
this stray thought, along with his fit of im- 
patience. 

At another time she used a similar argument. 
“I never tried for anything really big. ■ Like 
your inheriting a million dollars. Or becom- 
ing president of Hempnell overnight, even if 
I’d thought you wanted to. There’s a law 
of reaction or retribution in all conjuring — 
I mean, I used to think there was. Like the 
kick of a gun. I was afraid.” 

After that there were no more interrup- 
tions — only the white smudge of Tansy’s face 
in the darkness. 

When he had finished his voice was tired, 
too. 

There was a pause. Then she said, “I’ll do 
what you want me to. I’ll burn all my stuff. 
I’ll never touch it again.” 

He snapped on the light, and it seemed to 
him that science and healthy skepticism had 
been created anew from the primeval dark. 
The hands of his watch stood at ten thirty. 
Then he saw that Tansy had begun to cry. 

“Darling,” she managed to say, “don’t you 
see this is what I’ve wanted? Only I’d got- 
ten in so deep I never dared. On your ac- 
count. You had to find out and make me 
stop. That was the only way.” 

What followed was oddly anticlimactic — the 
ransacking of the house for all of Tansy’s hid- 
den charms. First the contents of the dress- 
ing table. He found then that he could be 
generous in his victory because his trust in 
Tansy was re-established — he did not demand 
to look into her locked little leather-bound 
diary, when she told him it contained no rele- 
vant material. 

Then the rest of the house, Tansy darting 
from room to room, deftly recovering flannel- 
wrapped “hands” from the upholstery of 
chairs, the under sides of table tops, the in- 
terior of vases, until he marveled that he had 
lived in the house for more than ten years 
without chancing on any. 

“It’s rather like a treasure hunt, isn’t it?” 
she observed with a rueful smile. 

There were others outside — under front and 
back doorsteps, in the garage, and in the car. 
With every handful thrown on the roaring fire 
he had built in the living room, his sense of 
relief grew. Finally, she opened the seams of 
the pillows on his -bed and carefully fished out 
two little matted shapes made of feathers 
bound with fine thread, so they blended with 



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the fluffy contents of the pillow. 

“See, one’s a heart, the other an anchor. 
That’s for security,” she told him. “New Or- 
leans magic. You haven’t taken a step for 
years without being in the range of one of my 
protective charms.” 

The feather figures puffed into flame and 
were gone in an instant. 

“There, that’s the last one of them,” she 
said. “AJ1 gone.” 

“You’re sure?” For. a moment his voice 
grew hard again. “Absolutely certain you 
haven’t overlooked any?” 

“Absolutely certain. There’s not one left 
in the house. I’ve gone over it in my mind a 
dozen times. I’m tired now, really tired. I 
want to go straight to bed.” Suddenly she be- 
gan to laugh. “Oh, but first I’ll have to stitch 
up those pillows, or there’ll be feathers all over 
the place.” 

He put his arms around her. “Everything 
0. K. now?” 

“Yes, darling. Only one thing I want to 
ask you — that we don’t talk about this for 
a few days at least. I’m really terribly 
ashamed. But I’m glad it’s happened, re- 
member that.” 

After Tansy was gone, Norman threw a 
fresh log on the fire, and sank back in the easy- 
chair, watching the restless, rhythmic play 
of the flames. Gradually his thoughts began 
to unkink. He found himself wondering — 
not without admiration — at Tansy’s relatively 
cool behavior. He would never have dared 
to try reasoned argument on any other woman 
in a similar situation. But that was like Tansy. 
Always fair. Always willing to listen to logic. 
Empirical. Except that she had gotten off on 
a crazy sidetrack. 

He reached down to stroke Totem, who did 
not look away from the hypnotic flames. 

“Time we got to bed, old man. Must be 
about twelve. No— quarter-past one.” 

As he slipped back the watch, the fingers 
of his other hand went automatically to the 
charm at the end of the chain— more a locket 
than a charm — a gift from Tansy. 

He gazed ruminatingly at the flattened 
golden heart, weighed it in his palm. It seemed 
perhaps a trifle heavier than its metal shell 
would account for. He snapped up the cover 
with his thumbnail. There was no regular way 
of getting at the space behind Tansy’s photo- 
graph, so, after a moment’s hesitation, he care- 
fully edged it out with a pencil point. 



Behind the photograph was a tiny packet, 
wrapped in the finest flannel. 

Just like a woman, was his first thought — to 
seem to give in completely, but to hold out on 
something. 

Perhaps she had forgotten. 

Angrily he tossed the packet into the fire- 
place. The photograph fluttered along with it, 
lighted on the bed of embers, and flared before 
he could snatch it out. He had a glimpse of 
Tansy’s face curling and blackening. 

The packet took longer. A yellow glow 
crept across its surface, as the nap singed. 
Then a wavering four-inch flame shot up.- 
Simultaneously a chill went through him, 
though he still felt the heat from the embers. 
The room seemed to darken. There was a 
faint, mighty roaring in his ears, as of motors 
far underground. He had the sense of stand- 
ing suddenly naked and unarmed before some- 
thing menacingly alien. 

Totem had turned around and was peering 
intently at the shadows in the far corner. With 
an expectorant hiss she sprang sideways and 
darted from the room. 

He realized he was trembling. Nervous re- 
action, he told himself. Might have known it 
was overdue. 

The flame died, and once again there was 
only the bed of embers. 

Explosively, the phone began to jangle, 
“Professor Saylor? I just want to tell you 
that you’re not going to get away with what 
you’re trying to do to me. I’m not going to be 
flunked out of Hempnell without a protest.” 
The voice spluttered with rage. It was some 
moment before he recognized the student and 
cut in. 

“Now listen, Jennings, if you thought you 
were being treated unfairly, why didn’t you 
present your grievances three months ago, when, 
you got your grades?” * ^ 

“Why? Because I let you pull the wool over 
my eyes. I didn’t realize until this minute 
that you were behind it all.” 

“Be reasonable. You flunked two courses 
besides mine last semester.” 

“Yes, because you dropped dirty hints. Poi- 
soned everyone’s mind against me.” 

“And you mean to tell me you only realized 
it now?” 

“Yes, I do. It just came to me in a flash 
as I was thinking here. I saw your whole 
slimy plot. Oh, you were clever all right, but 
let me tell you, Saylor — ” 

The yoice ranted on. Twice his “But what 



18 UNKNOWN WORLDS 

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possible motive could I — ” went disregarded. 
With a distasteful grimace he hung up. 

He felt suddenly very tired. There was an 
unpleasant coincidence tangled up in the events 
of the past few minutes, if you bothered to 
figure it out, but a scientist ought to have a 
healthy disregard for coincidences. 

He put, the screen in front of the fire and 
went to bed. 

II. 

The red-haired woman knew immediately 
what had awakened her. She made no fur- 
ther movement, but lay there, propped on one 
elbow. From the opposite bed came placid 
snores. 

Presently, although there was no further 
sound, her eyes were drawn to the blacker 
smudge of the phone. She lifted it quietly and 
whispered, “Expected you, dear. I was sure 
you’d feel it, too.” 

The other voice, came over the wire in bursts 
— jerky. “How couldnt I feel it? Like a 
great gust of wind. Complete collapse of Pro- 
tective Screen in her quarter. Balance gone. 
Oh, I told you this would happen. She’s up 
to something. I’ll go crazy until I know what.” 

“No need to lose your head,” whispered the 
red-haired woman gruffly, eying the opposite 
bed. “She’s upset the Balance, all right. But 
in a very peculiar way. Any upset I ever 
heard of came from Excessive Aggression. Un- • 
justified^ Death-attempts, or sudden Career- 
smashing. But Tansy’s done the reverse — let 
down her guard.” 

“Yes, just to hoodwink us! She’s discovered 
a new weapon. Something bad. Why else 
should she take such a chance? She’s plan- 
ning to smash us. We’ve got to beat her to 
it!” . . 

“Now, now;, dear, no tantrums!” A third 
voice was coming over the wires, a sweetly re- 
proving voice, just the sort to go with silver 
hair. “We mustn’t do anything we’d be sorry 
for. We must be sure of our ground.” 

“Do you mean we’re just to wait?” The 
jerky voice had grown stridently indignant. 
“When we know she must have a new weapon? 
While she gets ready to smash us?” 

“I didn’t say we were to wait forever.” 
There was a chilling tingle of tartness in the 
sweet old voice. “I recognize the danger. I 
recognize also that she has upset the Balance 
and must take the consequences. When we 
are sure of our ground, we will act. A prospect 
which, I may say, delights me.” 



“And do nothing until then?” 

“Yes, dear! Except to watch her — and him.” 

The red-haired woman smiled grimly, listen- 
ing to the other two. Such chatterers! The 
other bed creaked as the sleeper changed po- 
sition. 

“In any case,” she whispered, cutting in, 
“there should be consequences whether we act 
or not. With the Protective Screen down, 
things should begin to happen to her — and 
especially to him. Things which have been 
accumulating for a long, long, time — ” 

“And how is Tansy?” asked Mrs. Carr, with 
such sweet solicitude that for a moment Nor- 
man wondered tf the silver-haired dean of 
women had even more of an inside wire on the 
private lives of the faculty than was gen- 
erally surmised. But only for a moment'. 
After all, sweet solicitude was the dean of 
women’s stock-in-trade. 

“We missed her at our last faculty wives’ 
meeting,” Mrs. Carr continued. “She’s such 
a gay soul/ And we do need gaiety these 
days.” Cold morning sunlight glinted on her 
thick glasses and glowed frostily in her apple- 
red cheeks. She put her hand on his arm. 
“Hempnell appreciates Tansy, Professor Say- 
lor.” 

Norman’s “And why not?” changed to “I 
think that shows good judgment” as he said it. 
He derived sardonic amusement from recall- 
ing how five years ago Mrs. Carr was a charter 
member of The-Saylors-are-a-demoralizing- 
influence Club. ' 

Mrs. Carr’s silvery laughter trilled in the 
chilly air. “I must get on to my student con- 
ferences,” she said. 

He watched her hurry off, brisk and erect 
for all her near-seventy years, wondering if 
the sudden friendliness meant that there had 
been an unexpected improvement in his chances 
of getting the vacant chairmanship of the so- 
ciology department. Then he turned into 
Morton Hall. 

When he had climbed to his office, the phone 
was ringing. It was Thompson, the publie- 
relations man. 

“A rather delicate matter, Professor Say- 
lor.” Delicate matters were Thompson’s forte. 
“This morning one of the trustees phoned me. 
It seems he had just heard something — I 
haven’t the slightest idea from where — con- 
cerning you and Mrs. Saylor, That over 
Christmas vacation you had attended a party 
given by some prominent but . . . er . • . very 



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rowdy theatrical people. 1 was wondering 
if— 99 

“ — I would issue a denial? Sorry, but it 
wouldn’t be honest.” 

“Oh ... I see. Well, that’s all there is to 
it, then.” Thompson answered bravely after 
a moment. “I thought you’d like to know, 
though. The trustee was very hot under the 
collar. Talked my ear off about how these 
theatrical people were conspicuous for drunk- 
enness and divorce.” 

“He was right. Nice folks. I’ll introduce 
you to them some time.” 

“Oh , . . yes,” replied Thompson apprehen- 
sively. “Good-by.” 

The buzzer sounded, terminating the eight- 
o’clock classes. Norman swiveled his chair 
away from the desk and leaned back, amusedly 
irritated at this latest manifestation of the 
Hempnell “hush-hush” policy. Not that he 
had made any particular attempt to conceal 
the Berryman party, which had been a trifle 
more tempestuous than he had expected. Still, 
he had said nothing to anyone on campus. 
No use in being a fool. Now, after three 
months it all came out anyway. 

From where he sat, the roof ridge of Estrey 
Hall neatly bisected his office window along 
the diagonal. There was a medium-sized ce- 
ment dragon frozen in the act of clambering 
down it. For the tenth time that morning he 
reminded himself that what had happened last 
night had really happened. It was not so 
easy. And yet, when you got down to it. 
Tansy’s lapse into medievalism was not so 
very much stranger than Hempnell’s Gothic 
architecture, with its sprinkling of gargoyles 
and other fabulous monsters designed to scare 
off evil spirits. 

Saylor’s nine-o’clock class in “Primitive So- 
cieties” quieted down leisurely as he strode in 
a few seconds ahead of the buzzer. He set 
a student to explaining the sib as a factor 
in tribal organization, then put in the next 
five minutes organizing his thoughts and noting 
late arrivals and absentees. When the ex- 
planation, supplemented with blackboard dia- 
grams of marriage groups, had become so com- 
plicated that Bronstein, the prize student, was 
twitching with eagerness to take a hand, he 
called for comments and criticisms, and suc- 
ceeded in getting a, first-class argument going. 

Finally the cocksure fraternity president in 
the second row said, “But all those ideas of 
social organization were based on ignorance. 



tradition, and superstition. Unlike modem 
society.” 

That was Norman’s cue. He lit in joy- 
ously, pulverized the defender of modern so- 
ciety with a point-by-point comparison of 
fraternities and primitive “young men’s 
houses” down to the actual details of initiation 
ceremonies, which he dissected with scientific 
relish, and then launched into a broad analysis 
of present-day customs as they would appear 
to a hypothetical ethnologist from Mars. In 
passing, he drew a facetious analogy between 
sororities and primitive seclusion of girls at 
puberty. 

The minutes raced pleasantly by as he dem- 
onstrated instances of cultural lag in every- 
thing from table manners to systems of nota- 
tion and measurement. Even the lone sleeper 
in the last row surprised himself by listening. 

“Certainly we’ve made important innova- 
tions, chief among them the scientificmethod,” 
he said at one point, “but the primitive ground- 
work is still there, dominating the pattern of 
our lives. We’re modified anthropoid apes 
inhabiting night clubs and battleships. What 
else could you expect us to be?” 

Marriage and courtship got special atten- 
tion. With Bronstein grinning delightedly, he 
drew detailed modern parallels to marriage by 
purchase, marriage by capture, and symbolic 
marriage to a deity. He showed that trial 
marriage is no mere modern conception but 
a well-established ancient custom, successfully 
practiced by the Polynesians and others. 

At this point he became aware of a beet- 
red, angry face toward the back of the room 
— that of Gracine Pollard, daughter 1 of Ran- 
dolph Pollard, president of Hempnell College. 
She glared at him outragedly, pointedly ig- 
noring the interest taken by the neighboring 
students in her blushes. 

Automatically it occurred to him, “Now I 
suppose the little neurotic will go yammering 
to mamma that Professor Saylor is advocating 
free love.” He shrugged the idea aside and 
continued the discussion without modification. 
The buzzer cut it short. 

But he was left feeling irritated with him- 
self, and only half listened to the enthusiastic 
comments and questions of Bronstein' and a 
couple of others. 

Back at the office he found a note from 
Harold Gunnison, the dean of men, asking for 
an interview. Having the next hour free, he 
set out across the quadrangle for the Adminis- 
tration Building, Bronstein still tagging along 



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to expound some interesting theory of his 
own. 

But Norman was wondering why he had 
let himself go* Admittedly, some of his re- 
marks had been a trifle raw. He had long ago 
adjusted his classroom behavior to Hempnell 
standards, without losing intellectual integrity, 
and this ill-advised though trivial deviation 
bothered him. 

Mrs. Carr swept by him without a word, her 
face slightly averted, cutting him cold. A mo- 
ment later he realized, the explanation. In 
his abstraction, he had lighted a cigarette. 
Moreover, Bronstein, obviously delighted at 
faculty infraction of a firmly established Hemp- 
nell taboo, had followed suit. 

He frowned but continued to smoke. Evi- 
dently the events of the previous night had 
disturbed his mind more than he had real- 
ized. He ground out the butt on the steps 
^ of the Administration Building. 

In the doorway to the outer office he col- 
lided with the stylishly stout form of Mrs, 
Gunnison. 

“Lucky I had a good hold on my camera,” 
she grumbled, as he stooped to recover her 
bulging handbag. “I’d hate to try to replace 
a lens these days,” Then brushing back an 
untidy wisp of reddish hair from her fore- 
head, “You look worried. How’s Tansy?” 



He answered briefly, sliding past her. Now 
there was a woman who really ought to be a 
witch. Sloppy, expensive clothes; bossy, snob- 
bish, and gruff; good-humored in a beefy fash- 
ion, but capable of riding roughshod over 
anyone else’s desires. The only person in whose 
presence her husband’s authority seemed a 
trifle ridiculous. 

Harold Gunnison cut short a telephone call, 
and motioned him to come in and shut the 
door. 

“Norm,” Gunnison began, scowling, “this is 
a pretty delicate matter.” 

Norman became attentive. When Harold 
Gunnison said something was a delicate mat- 
ter, unlike Thompson, he really meant it. They 
played golf and squash together, and got on 
pretty well. 

He braced himself to hear an account of 
eccentric, indiscreet, or even criminal behavior 
on the part of Tansy. That suddenly seemed 
the obvious explanation. 

, “You have a girl from the Student Employ- 
ment Agency working for you? A Margaret 
van Nice?” 

Norman nodded. “A.rather quiet kid. Does 
mimeographing.” 

“Well, a little while ago, she threw an hys- 
terical fit in Mrs. Carr’s office. Claimed that 
you had seduced her. Mrs. Carr immediately 
dumped the whole business in my lap.” 




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“Well?” said Norman. 

Gunnison frowned and cocked an eye at 
him. “Things like this sometimes really hap- 
pen,” he muttered. 

“Sure,” Norman replied. “But not this 
time.” 

“Of course. I had to ask.” 

“Sure. There was, opportunity though. We 
worked late several nights over at Morton, edit- 
ing stuff.” 

Gunnison reached for a folder. “On a chance, 
I got out her neurotic index. She ranks way 
up near the top. A regular bundle of com- 
plexes. We’ll just have to handle it smoothly.” 
‘Til want to hear her accuse me,” said, Nor- 
man. “Soon as possible.” 

“Of course. I’ve arranged for a meeting at 
Mrs. Carr’s office. Four o’clock this after- 
noon. Meantime she’s seeing the college phy- 
sician. That should sober her up.” 

“Four o’clock,” repeated Norman, standing 
up. “You’ll be there?” 

“Certainly. I’m sorry about this whole 
business, Norm. Frankly, I think Mrs. Carr 
botched it. Got panicky. She’s a pretty old 
lady.” 

In the outer office he stopped to glance at 
a small display case of items concerned with 
Gunnison’s work in physical chemistry. The 
present display was of Prince Rupert drops 
and other high-tension oddities. It occurred 



to him that Hempnell was something like a 
Prince Rupert drop. Hit the main body with 
a hammer and you only jarred your hand. 
But flick with a fingernail the delicate filament 
in which the drop ended, and it would explode 
in your face. 

Fanciful. 

He glanced at the other objects, among 
them a tiny mirror, which, the legend explained, 
would fly to powder at the slightest scratch or 
sudden change in temperature. 

Yet it wasn’t so fanciful, when you got to 
thinking about it. Any highly organized, com- 
plex, somewhat artificial institution, such as 
a college, tends to develop dangerous weak- 
nesses. And the same would be true of a per- 
son or a career. Flick the delicate spot in 
the mind of a neurotic girl, and she would ex- 
plode with wild accusations. Or take a saner 
person, like himself. Suppose someone should 
be studying him secretly, looking for the vul- 
nerable filament, finger casually poised to 
flick — 

But that was really getting fanciful. 

Coming out of their eleven-o’clock classes, 
Hervey Sawtelle buttonholed him. 

Hervey Sawtelle resembled an unfriendly 
caricature of a college professor. Sometimes 
he carried two brief cases, and he was usually 
on his way to a committee meeting. Routine 




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worries chased themselves up and down his 
nervous face. 

But at the moment he was in the grip of 
one of his petty excitements, 

“Say, Norman, the most interesting thing! 

I was down in the stacks this morning, and 
I happened to pull out an old doctor’s thesis 
— 1930 — by someone I never heard of — with 
the title , ‘Superstition and Neurosis.’ ” He 
produced a bound, typewritten manuscript that 
looked as if it had aged without ever being 
opened. “Almost the same as your ‘Parallel- 
isms in Superstition and Neurosis.’ An odd 
coincidence, eh? I’m going to look it over to- 
night.” 

They were hurrying together toward the 
dining hall down a walk flooded with jabber- 
ing, laughing students. Norman studied Saw- 
telle’s face covertly. Surely the fool must re- 
member that his “Parallelisms” had been pub- 
lished in 1931, giving .an ugly suggestion of 
plagiarism. But Sawtelle’s nervous, toothy 
grin was without guile. 

He had the impulse to pull Sawtelle aside 
and tell him that there was something odder 
than a coincidence involved, and that it did 
not reflect in any way on his own integrity 
of scholarship. But this seemed hardly the 
place. y , 

Yet there was no denying the incident both- 
ered him a trifle. Why, it was years since he 
had even thought of that stupid business- of 
Cunningham’s thesis. It had lain buried and 
forgotten in the past — a hidden vulnerability, 
waiting for the flick of the fingernail. 

Asinine fancifulness! It could all be very 
well explained, to Sawtelle or anyone else, at 
a more suitable time. 

Sawtelle’s mind was back to routine wor- 
ries. “You know, we should be having our 
conference on the social-science program for 
next year. On the other hand, I suppose we 
should wait until — ” He paused embar- 

rassedly. , 

“Until it’s decided whether you or I get 
the chairmanship of the department?” Norman 
finished for him. “I doh’t see why. We’ll be 
working together in any case.” 

“Yes, of course. I didn’t mean to suggest 
that—” 

They were joined by some other faculty 
members on the steps of the dining hall. The 
deafening clatter of trays from the student 
" section was subdued to a faint din as they en- 
tered the faculty sanctum. 

Conversation revolved among the old fa- 

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miliar topics, with an undercurrent of specu- 
lation as to what reorganizations and curtail- 
ments of staff the new war year might bring 
to Hempnell. There was some reference to 
the political ambitions of President Pollard — - 
it was rumored that he might be persuaded 
to run for governor or senator; discreet si- 
lences here and there around the table substi- 
tuted for adverse criticisms on this possibility. 
Sawtelle’s Adam’s apple twitched convulsively 
at a chance reference to the vacant chairman- 
ship in sociology. 

Norman managed to get a fairly interesting 
conversation going. He was glad that he 
would be busy with classes and conferences 
until four o’clock. He knew he could work 
half again as hard as someone like Sawtelle, 
but if he were compelled to do one quarter 
of the worrying that man did — 

Yet the four-o’clock meeting proved to be 
an anticlimax. He had no sooner' put his 
hand on the door leading to Mrs. Carr’s office, 
when — as if that had provided the necessary 
stimulus — a shrill, tearful voice burst out with:"* 
“It’s all a lie! I made it up.” 

Gunnison was sitting near the window, face 
a trifle averted, arms folded, looking like a 
slightly bored, slightly embarrassed but very, 
stolid elephant. In a chair in the center of 
the room was huddled a delicate', fair-haired, 
but rather homely girl, tears dribbling down 
her cheeks and hysterical sobs racking her 
shoulders. Mrs. Carr was trying to calm hei 
in a fluttery way. 

“I don’t know why I did it,” the girl bleated 
pitifully. “I was in love with him, and he 
wouldn’t even look at me. I was going to 
kill myself last night, and then I thought I 
would do this instead, to hurt him, or — ” 

“Now, Margaret, you must control your- 
self,” Mrs. Carr admonished, her hands hover- 
ing over the girl’s shoulders. 

“Just a minute,” Norman cut in, “did you 
say last night?” 

“There, there, dear. I think you better 
leave, Professor Saylor.” Mrs. Carr’s eyes, 
magnified by thick glasses, looked fishlike. Her 
attitude was hostile. “There’s obviously no 
need of asking questions.” 

“I think I should be permitted at least one,” 
said Norman. ~“Just exactly at what time 
last night, Miss van Nice, did you get this 
idea?” 

Gunnison registered puzzled but vague 
curiosity. 

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The tear-stained face looked up at Norman. 

“It was just after one o’clock,” she said. 
“I had been lying awake in the dark for hours, 
planning to kill myself. And then, in a flash 
the idea came to me.” Suddenly she shook 
loose from Mrs. Carr and stood up, facing 
Norman. “Oh, I hate you!” she screamed. “I 
hate you!” 

Gunnison followed him out of the office. 
He yawned, shook his head, and remarked, 
“Glad that’s over.” 

“Never a dull moment,” Norman responded, 
absently. 

“Oh, by the way,” Gunnison said, dragging 
a stiff white envelope out of his inside pocket, 
“here’s a note for Mrs. Saylor. Hulda asked 
me to give it to you. I forgot about it be- 
fore.” 

“I met her coming out of your office this 
morning,” Norman said, his thoughts still else- 
where. 

Somewhat later, back at Morton, Norman 
tried to come to grips with those thoughts, 
but found them remarkably slippery. The 
dragon on the roof ridge of Estrey Hall lured 
away his attention. Funny about little things 
like that. You never even noticed them for - 
years, and then they suddenly popped into 
focus. How many people could give you one 
single definite fact about the architectural orna- 
ments of buildings in which they worked? Not 
one in ten, probably. Why, if you’d asked 
him yesterday about that dragon, he wouldn’t 
for his life have been able to tell you even 
if there mas one or not. 

He leaned on the window sill, looking at 
the lizardlike yet grotesquely anthropoid form, 
bathed in the yellow sunset glow, which, his 
wandering mind remembered, was supposed 
to symbolize the souls of the dead passing into 
and out of the underworld. Below the dragon, 
jutting out from under the cornice, was a 
sculptured head, one of a series of famous 
scientists and mathematicians decorating the 
entablature. He made out the name “Galileo,” 
along with a brief inscription of some sort. 

When he turned back to answer the phone, 
it suddenly seemed very dark in the office, 

“Saylor? I just want to tell you that I’m 
going to give you until tomorrow — ” 

“Listen, Jennings,” Norman cut in sharply, 
“I hung up on you last night because you kept 
shouting into the phone. This threatening line 
won’t do you any good.” 

The voice continued where it had broken 



off, growing dangerously high. “ — until to- 
morrow to withdraw your charges and have me 
reinstated at Hempnell. If you don’t — ” 

“I told you not to threaten. There were 
no charges. You just flunked out. If you 
want to talk it over reasonably, come and see 

55 

me. 

The voice at the other end of the line broke 
into a screaming obscene torrent of abuse, so 
loud that he could still hear it very plainly as 
he was placing the receiver back in the cradle. 

Paranoid — that was the way it sounded. 

Then he suddenly sat very still. 

At twenty past one last night he had burned 
a charm supposedly designed to ward off evil 
influence from him. The last of Tansy’s 
“hands.” 

At about the same time Margaret van Nice 
had decided to accuse him of seducing her, and 
Marvin Jennings had decided to make him re- 
sponsible for an imaginary plot. 

Next morning Hervey Sawtelle, poking 
around in the stacks, had found — 

Rubbish! 

With an angry snort of laughter at his own 
credulity, he picked up his hat and headed 
for home. 

III. 

Tansy was in a radiant mood, prettier than 
she had seemed in months, younger-looking 
than her thirty-six years. Twice he caught 
her smiling to herself, when he glanced up 
from his supper. 

He gave her the note from Mrs. Gunnison. 
“Mrs. Carr asked after you, too. Gushed all 
over me— in a ladylike way, of course. Then, 
later on — ” He caught himself as he started 
to tell about the cigarette, and Mrs. Carr 
cutting him, and the interview in her office. 
No use worrying Tansy with things that might 
be considered bad luck. No telling what fur- 
ther constructions she might put upon them. 

She glanced through the note and handed 
it back to him. 

“It has the authentic Hempnell flavor, don’t 
you think?” she observed. 

He read: 

Dear Tansy: . Where are you keeping yourself? I 
haven’t seen you on campus more than once or twice 
this year. If you’re busy with something especially 
interesting, why not tell us about it? Why not come 
to tea this Saturday, and tell me all about yourself? 

Hulda. 

P. S. You’re supposed to bring four dozen cookies 
to the Parents’ Day Reception the Saturday after. 



19 



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“Rather confused-sounding,” he said, “but 
I clearly perceive the keen bludgeon of Mrs. 
Gunnison. She looked particularly sloppy to- 
day.” 

Tansy laughed. “Still, we have been pretty 
antisocial these last weeks. I believe I’ll ask 
them over for bridge tomorrow night. It’s 
short notice, but they’re usually free Wednes- 
days: And the Sawtelles.” 

“Do we have to? That henpecker?” 

Tansy, laughed. “I don’t know how you 
would ever manage to get along without me — ” 
She stopped short. “I’m afraid you’ll have 
to endure Evelyn. After all, Hervey’s the 
other important man in your department, and 
it’s expected that you see something of each 
other socially. To make two tables, I’ll in- 
vite the Carrs.” - ' 

“Three fearful females,” said Norman. “If 
they represent the average run of professors’ 
wives, I was lucky to get you,” 

“I sometimes have similar thoughts .about 
professors’ wives’ husbands,” said Tansy. 

Then as they smoked over the coffee, she 
said hesitantly, “Norm, I said I didn’t want 
to talk about last night. „ But now there’s 
something I want to tell you.” 

He nodded. 

“I didn’t tell you last night, Norm, but 
when we burned those . . . things, I was ter- 
ribly frightened. I felt that we were ripping 
holes in walls that it had taken me years to 
build, and that now there was nothing to keep 
out the — ” 

He said nothing, sat very still. 

“Oh, it’s hard to explain, but ever since 
I began to . . . play with those things. I’ve 
been conscious of pressures from outside. 
Things trying to push their way in and get 
at us. And I’ve had to press them back, fight . 
back at them with my-r It’s like that test of 
strength men sometimes make, trying to force 
each other’s band to the table. But that 
wasn’t what I was starting to say. 

“I went to bed feeling miserable and scared. 
The pressure from outside kept tightening 
around me, and I couldn’t resist it, because 
we’d burned those things. And then sud- 
denly, as I lay in the dark, about an hour after 
I went to bed, I got the most abrupt tremen- 
dous feeling of relief. The pressure vanished, 
as if I’d bobbed up to the surface after almost 
drowning. And I knew then ... that I’d got- 
ten over my craziness. That’s why I’m so 
happy.” 



It was hard for Norman not to tell Tansy 
what he was thinking. Here was one more 
coincidence, but it knocked the others into a 
cocked hat. At about the; same time as he 
had burned the last charm, experiencing a sen- 
sation of fear. Tansy had felt a great relief. 
That would teach him to build theories on co- 
incidences! 

“For I was crazy in a way, dear,” she was 
saying. “There aren’t many people who would 
have taken it as you did.” 

He said, “You .weren’t crazy — which is a 
relative term, anyway, applicable to anyone. 
You were just fooled by the cussedness of 
things.” 

“Cussedness?” 

“Yes. The way nails sometimes insist on 
bending when you hammer, as if they were 
trying to! Or the way machinery refuses to 
work. Matter’s funny stuff. In large aggre- 
gates, it obeys natural law, but when you get 
down to the individual atom or electron, it’s 
largely a matter of chance or whim — ” This 
conversation was not taking the direction he 
wanted it to, and he was thankful when Totem 
jumped up onto the table, creating a diversion. 

It turned out to be the pleasantest evening 
they had spent together in ages. 

But next morning he wished he had not 
gotten started on that “cussedness of things” 
notion. It stuck in his mind. He found him- 
self puzzling over the merest trifle — in the pre- 
cise position of that idiotic cement dragon. 
Yesterday he remembered thinking that it was 
exactly in the middle of the . descending roof 
ridge. But now he saw that it was obviously 
two thirds of the way down, quite near the 
architrave topping the huge and useless Gothic 
gateway set between Estrey and Morton. Even 
a social scientist ought to have better powers 
of observation than that! 

The jangle of the phone coincided with the 
nine-o’clock buzzer. 

“Professor Saylor?” Thompson’s voice was 
apologetic. “I’m sorry to bother you again, 
but I just got another inquiry from one of 
the trustees. Concerning an informal address 
you were supposed to have delivered at about 
the same time as' that . . . er . . . party. The 
topic was ‘What’s Wrong With College Edu- 
cation?’ ” 

“Well, what about it? Are you implying 
that there’s nothing wrong with college educa- 
tion, or that the topic is taboo?” 

“Oh, no, no, nor But the trustee seemed to 



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think that you were making a criticism of 
Hempnell.” 

* “Of small colleges of the same type as Hemp- 
nell, yes. Of Hempnell, specifically, no.” 

“Well, he seemed to fear it might have a 
detrimental effect on enrollment for next year. 
Spoke of several friends of his with children 
of college age as having heard your address 
and being unfavorably impressed.” 

“Then they were supersensitive.” 

“He also seemed to think you had made a 
slighting reference to President Pollard’s . . . 
er . . . political activities.” 

“I’m sorry but I have to get along to a class 
now.” 

“Very well,” said Thompson. He sounded 
hurt. 

Gracine Pollard was absent from “Primitive 
Societies,” Norman noted with an inward grin, 
wondering if it had become too much for her 
warped sense of propriety. But even the 
daughters of college presidents ought to be 
told a few home truths now and then. 

Yesterday’s lecture had had a markedly 
stimulating effect. Several students had 
abruptly chosen related subjects for their term 
papers, and the fraternity president had de- 
cided to capitalize on his yesterday’s discom- 
fiture by writing a humorous article on the 
primitive significance of fraternity initiations 
for the Hempnell Buffoon. They had a very 
brisk session. It put Norman in a good humor 
which lasted until after his three-o’clock class 
that afternoon, when he happened to meet 
the Sawtelles, in front of Morton Hall. 

“I had lunch today with Henrietta ... I 
mean, Mrs. Pollard,” Mrs. Sawtelle announced 
with the air of one who has just visited roy- 
alty. 

“Oh say, Norman — ” Hervey began, excit- 
edly, thrusting forward his brief case. 

“We had a very interesting chat,” his wife 
continued, sweeping oh as if her husband had 
not spoken. “We talked about you, too, Nor- 
man. It seems Gracine has been misinterpret- 
ing some of the things you’ve been saying 
in your class. She’s such a sensitive girl.” 

“Dumb Bunny, you mean,” Norman cor- 
rected mentally. He murmured, “Oh?” with 
some show of politeness. 

“Dear Henrietta was a little puzzled as just 
how to handle it, though of course she’s a 
very tolerant, cosmopolitan soul. I just men- 
tioned it because I thought you’d want to 
know. After all, it is very important that no 



j>ne gets any wrong impressions about the de- 
partment. Don’t you agree with me, Hervey?” 
she ended sharply. 

“What, dear? Oh, yes, yes. Say, Norman, 
I want to tell you about that thesis I showed 
you yesterday. The most amazing thing! Its 
main arguments are almost exactly the same 
as those in your book! An amazing case of 
independent investigators arriving at the same 
conclusions. Why, it’s like Darwin and Wal- 
lace, or — ” 

“You didn’t tell me anything about this, 
dear,” said Mrs. Sawtelle, as if he had cheated 
her. ' 

“Wait a minute,” said Norman. 

He hated to make an explanation in Mrs. 
Sawtelle’s presence, but it had to be done. 

“Sorry, Hervey, to have to substitute a 
rather sordid story for an interesting case of 
independent investigation. It happened when 
I was an instructor here — 1929, my first year. 
A graduate student named Cunningham got 
hold of my ideas — I was friendly with him — 
and incorporated them into his doctor’s thesis. 
My work in superstition and neurosis was just 
a side line then, and so I didn’t happen to read 
his thesis until after he’d gotten his degree.” 

Sawtelle blinked. His face resumed its usual 
worried expression. A look of vague disap- 
pointment had come into Mrs. Sawtelle’s black 
button eyes, as if she would have liked to 
read the thesis before hearing the explana- 
tion. 

“I wa$ very angry,” Norman continued, 
“and intended to show him up. But then I 
heard he’d died. There was some hint of 
suicide. He was an unbalanced chap. How 
he’d hoped to get away with such an out- 
and-out steal, I don’t know. Anyway, I de- 
cided not to do anything about it, for his 
family’s sake. You see, it would have supplied 
a strong reason for thinking he had committed 
suicide.” 

Mrs. Sawtelle looked incredulous. 

“But, Norman,” Sawtelle commented anx- 
iously, “was that really wise? I mean to keep 
silent. Weren’t you taking a chance? I. mean 
with regard to your academic reputation?” 

Abruptly Mrs. Sawtelle’s manner changed. 

“Put that thing back in the stacks, Hervey, 
and forget about it,” she directed curtly. Then 
she smiled archly at Norman. “I’ve been 
forgetting that I have a surprise for you, Pro- 
fessor Saylor. Come down to the sound booth 
now, and I’ll show you. It won’t take a min- 
ute. Come along, Hervey.” 



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/ 



Norman had no excuse ready, so he accom- “We’ll see you tonight,” Evelyn called after 
panied the Sawtelles to the rooms of the speech him. It sounded like, “You won’t get rid of 
department at the other end of Morton, won- me.” 
dering how the speech department ever found 

any use for someone with as nasal- and affected Back at the office, Norman put in a good 
a voice as Evelyn Sawtelle, even if she did hour’s work on his notes. Then, getting up 
happen to be a professor’s wife. to switch on the light, his glance happened to 

The sound booth was dim and quiet, a solid fall on the window, 
box with soundproof walls and double win- After a few moments, he jerked away and 
dows. Mrs. Sawtelle took a disk from the darted to the closet, to get his field glasses, 
cabinet, put it on one of the three turntables, Evidently someone had a very obscure sense 
. and adjusted a couple of dials. of humor to perpetrate such a complicated 

From the amplifier came a strangely inter- practical joke, 
mittent wailing or roaring, as of wind prying - Intently he searched the cement at the junc- 
at a house. It struck a less usual chord, though, ture of roof ridge and clawed feet, looking for 
in Norman’s memory. ' the telltale cracks. He could not spot any, 

Mrs. Sawtelle darted back and lifted the but that was not easy to do in the failing yel- 
needle, hurriedly, so it grated against the disk, low light. 

“I made a mistake,” she said. “That’s some The cement dragon now stood at the edge 

modernistic music or other. Hervey, switch of the gutter, as if about to walk over to Mor- 
on the light. Here’s the record I wanted.” ton along the architrave of the big gateway. 

“It sounded, awful, whatever it was,” her He lifted his glasses to the creature’s head 
husband observed. - — blank and crude as an unfinished skull. Then 

Norman had identified his memory. It was on an impulse, he dropped them to the row of 
of an Australian bull-roarer a colleague had sculptured heads, focused on Galileo, and read 
once demonstrated for him. The curved slat the little inscription he had not been able 
of wood, whirled at the end of a cord, made to make out before, 
exactly the same sound. The aborigines used “Eppwr si muove.” 

it in their magic making. The words Galileo was supposed to have 

But now his own voice was coming out of muttered after recanting before the Inquisi- 
the amplifier, and he had an odd sense of jerk- tion his belief in the revolution of the Earth 
ing back in time. around the Sun. 

“Surprised?” she questioned coyly. “It’s “Nevertheless,' it moves.” 

that talk on civilian defense you gave the stu- A board creaked behind him, and he spun 

dents last week. We had a mike spotted by around. « 

the speaker’s rostrum — I suppose you thought ” By his desk stood a young man, waxen pale, 

it was for amplification — and we made a sneak with thick red hair. His eyes stood out like 
recording, as we call it. We cut it down here.” milky marbles’ One white, tendon-ridged hand 
She indicated the heavier, cement-based gripped a .22 target pistol, 
turntable for making recordings. Norman walked toward him, bearing slightly 

“We can do all sorts of things down here,” to the right. . 
she babbled on. “Mix all sorts of sound. Music The skimpy barrel of the gun came up. 
against voices. And — ” ~ “Hello, Jennings,” said Norman. “You’ve 

It was hard for Norman to appear even been reinstated. Your grades have been 
slightly pleased. “He knew his reasons were „ changed to straight A’s.” 
no more sensible than those of a savage afraid The gun barrel slowed for an instant, 

someone will learn his secret name, yet all the Norman lunged in. 

same he disliked the idea of Evelyn Sawtelle The gun went off under his left arm, pink- 

monkeying around with his voice. Like her ing the window. 

dully malicious, small-socketed eyes, it sug- The gun clunked on the floor. Jennings’ 
gested a prying for hidden weaknesses. And" skinny form went limp. As Norman sat him 
then that talk about mixing sounds — somehow down on the chair, he began to sob, convul- 
it did not set good with him. , sively. 

What it all boiled down to was that he Norman lifted the phone and asked for an 
detested the woman. on-campus number. The connection was made 

Rather brusquely, he excused himself. quickly. “Gunnison?” he asked. 

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“Uh-huh, just caught me as I was leaving/’ 

“Theodore Jennings’ parents live right near 
the college, don’t they? You know, the chap 
who flunked out last semester.” 

“I believe they do. What’s the matter? 

“Better get them over here quick. And 
have them bring his doctor. He just tried to 
shoot me.” 

There was a pause. Norman visualized Gun- 
nison’s startled reaction! Then, “Right away!” 

Norman put down the phone. Jennings con- 
tinued to sob agonizingly. Norman looked at 
him with disgust. 

An hour later Gunnison sat down in the 
same chair, and let off a sigh of relief. 

“I’m sure glad they’re gone,” he said. “It 
was awfully good of you, Norman, not to in- 
sist on the police. Things like that give a 
college a bad name.” 

Norman smiled wearily. “Almost anything 
gives a college a bad name. But that kid 
was obviously crazy as a loon.” 

They lit up and smoked for a while in si- 
lence. Then Gunnison looked at his watch. 

“I’ll have to hustle. It’s almost seven, and 
we’re due at your place at eight.” 

But he lingered, ambling over to the win- 
dow to inspect the bullet hole. 

“I wonder if you’d mind not mentioning this 
to Tansy?” Norman asked. “I don’t want to 
worry her.” 

Gunnison, nodded. “Good thing if we kept 
it to ourselves.” Then he pointed out the win- 
dow. “That’s one of my wife’s pets,” he re- 
marked in a jocular tone. 

Norman saw that his finger was trained on 
the cement dragon, now coldly revealed by 
the upward glare from the street lights. 

“I mean,” Gunnison went on, “she must 
have a dozen photographs of it. Hempnell’s 
her specialty, I believe she’s got a photograph 
of every architectural oddity on campus. 
That one’s her favorite.” He chuckled. 
“Usually it’s the husband who keeps ducking 
down into the darkroom, but not in our family. 
And me a chemist, at that.” 

Norman’s taut mind had unaccountably 
jumped to the thought of a bull-roarer. 
Abruptly he realized the analogy between the 
recording of a bull-roarer and the photograph 
of a dragon. 

He clamped a lid on the fantastic questions 
he wanted to ask Gunnison. 

“Come on!” he said. “We’d better get 
along!” 



Gunnison started a little at the harshness of 
his voice. 

“Can you drop me off?” asked Norman, more 
quietly. “My car’s at home,” 

“Sure thing,” said Gunnison. 

After he had switched out the light, Norman 
paused for a moment, staring back at the 
window. The words came back. 

“Eppur si muove .” 

IV. 

They had hardly cleared away the remains 
of a hasty supper, when there came the first 
clang from the front-door chimes. To Nor- 
man’s relief, Tansy had accepted without ques- 
tioning his rather clumsy explanation of why 
he had gotten home so late. There was some- 
thing puzzling, though, about her serenity 
these last two days. She was usually much 
sharper, and more curious. But of course he 
had been careful to hide disturbing events 
from her, and he ought only to be glad her 
nerves were in such .good shape. 

“Dearest! It’s been ages since we’ve seen 
you!” Mrs. Carr embraced Tansy in a ma- 
tronly fashion. “How are you? How are 
you?” The question sounded peculiarly eager 
and incisive. Norman put it down to typical 
Hempnell gush. “Oh, dear, I’m afraid I’ve got 
a cinder in my eye,” Mrs. Carr continued. 
“The wind’s getting quite fierce.” 

“Gusty,” said Professor Carr of the mathe- 
matics department, showing obvious but harm- 
less delight at finding the right word. He was 
a little man with red cheeks and a white Van- 
dyke, as, innocent and absent-minded as col- 
lege professors are supposed to be, who gave 
the impression of residing permanently in a 
special paradise of transcendental and trans- 
finite numbers. 

“It seems to have gone away now,” said 
Mrs. Carr, waving aside Tansy’s handkerchief 
and experimentally blinking her eyes, which 
looked unpleasantly naked and birdlike until 
she replaced her thick glasses. “Oh, that must 
be the others,” she added, as the chimes 
sounded. “Isn’t it marvelous that everyone 
at Hempnell is so punctual?” 

As Norman started for the front door he 
imagined for one crazy moment that some- 
one must be whirling a bull-roarer outside, un- 
til he realized it could only be the rising wind 
living up to Professor Carr’s description of it. 

He was confronted by Evelyn Sawtelle’s 
angular form, wind whipping her black coat 



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against her legs. Her equally angular face, 
with its shoe-button eyes, was thrust toward 
his own. 

“Let us in, or it’ll blow us in,” she said. Like 
most of her attempts at coy or facetious hu- 
mor, it did not come off, perhaps because she 
made it sound so stupidly grim. 

She entered, with Hervey in tow, and made 
for Tansy. 

“My dear, how are you? Whatever have 
you been doing with yourself?” Again he 
was struck by the eager and meaningful tone 
of the question. For a moment he wondered 
whether the women had somehow gotten an 
inkling of Tansy’s eccentricity, and the recent 
crisis. But Mrs. Sawtelle was so voice-conscious 
that she was always emphasizing things the 
wrong way. ^ 

There was a noisy flurry of greetings. Totem 
made a squeaky noise and darted out of the 
way of the crowd of human beings. Mrs. 
Carr’s silvery voice rose above the rest. 

“Oh, Professor Sawtelle, I want to tell you 
how much we all appreciated your talk on 
city planning. It was truly significant!” Saw- 
telle writhed, grinning in a flustered way.* 

Norman thought: “So now lies the favorite 
for the chairmanship.” 

Professor Carr had made a beeline for the 
bridge tables, and was wistfully fingering the 
cards. \ ' 

“I’ve been studying the mathematics of the 
shuffle,” he began with a bright-eyed air, as 
soon as Norman drifted into range. “The 
shuffle is supposed to make it a matter of 
chance what hands are dealt. But that is not 
true at all.” He broke open a new pack of 
cards, and spread the deck. “The manufac- 
turers arrange these by suits — thirteen spades, 
thirteen : hearts, and so on. Now suppose I 
make a perfect shuffle — divide the pack into 

equal parts and interleaf the cards one by 



one. 

He tried to demonstrate, but the cards got 
away from him. 

“It’s really not as hard as it looks,” he con- 
tinued amiably. “Some players can do it 
every time, quick as a wink. But that’s not 
the point. Suppose I make two perfect shuf- 
fles with a new pack. Then, no matter how 
the cards are cut, each player will get thirteen 
of a suit — an event that, if you went purely 
by the laws of chance would only happen once 
in about one hundred and fifty-eight billion 



times as regards a single hand, let alone all 
four.” 

Norman nodded, and Carr smiled delight- 
edly. 

“That’s only one example. What is loosely 
termed chance is really the resultant of several 
perfectly definite factors — chiefly the play of 
the cards on each hand, and the shuffle habits 
of the players.” He made it sound as im- 
portant as the Theory of Relativity. “Some 
evenings the hands are very ordinary. Other 
evenings they keep getting wilder and wilder — 
long suits, voids, and so on. Sometimes the 
high cards persistently run north and south. 
Other times, east and west. Luck? Chance? 
Not at all! It’s the result of perfectly definite 
factors. Some expert players actually make 
use of this principle to determine the probable 
location of key cards.” 

Norman’s mind went off on a tangent. Sup- 
pose you applied this principle outside bridge? 
Suppose that coincidences and other chance 
happenings weren’t really as chancy as they 
looked? Suppose there were individuals with 
a special aptitude for calling the turns, making 
the breaks? But that was a pretty obvious 
idea — nothing to give a person the shiver it 
had given him. 

“I wonder what’s holding up the Gunni- 
sons?” Professor Carr was saying. “We might 
start one table now. Perhaps^ we can get in 
an extra rubber,” he added hopefully. 

A peal from the chimes settled the question. 

Gunnison looked as if he had eaten his dinner 
too fast, and Hulda seemed rather surly. 

“We had to rush so,” she muttered curtly to 
Norman as he held the door. 

Like the other two women, she almost ig- 
nored him and concentrated her greetings on 
Tansy. It gave him a vaguely uneasy feeling, 
as when they had first come to Hempnell and 
faculty visits had been a nerve-racking chore. 
Tansy seemed at a disadvantage — somehow 
unprotected— in contrast to the aggressive air 
of purpose animating the other three. 

But what of it?— he told himself. That was 
usual with Hempnell faculty wives. They 
acted as if they lay awake nights plotting how 
to poison the people between their husband 
and the president’s chair. 

Whereas Tansy — But that was like what 
Tansy had been doing. His thoughts started 
to gyrate confusingly, and he switched them 
off. 

They cut for partners. 

The cards seemed determined to provide an 



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illustration for the theory Carr had explained. 
The hands were uniformly commonplace; — 
abnormally average. No long suits. Nothing 
but 4-4-3-2 and 4-3-3-3 distribution. Bid one; 
make two. Bid two; make one. 

After the second round, Norman applied his 
private remedy for boredom — the game of 
“Spot the Primitive.” You played it by your- 
self, secretly. It was just an exercise for an 
ethnologist’s imagination. You pretended that 
the people around you were members of a 
savage race, and you tried to figure out how 
their personalities would manifest themselves 
in such an environment. 

Tonight it worked almost too well. 

Nothing unusual about the men. Gunnison 
would, of course, be a prosperous tribal chief- 
tain; perhaps a little fatter, and tended by 
maidens, but with a jealous and vindictive wife 
waiting to pounce. Carr might figure as the 
basket maker of the village — a spry little old 
man, grinning like a monkey, weaving the 
basket fibers into intricate mathematical 
matrices. Sawtelle, of course, would be the 
tribal scapegoat, butt of endless painful practi- 
cal jokes. 

But the women! 

Take Mrs. Gunnison, now his partner. Give 
her a brown skin. Leave the red hair, but 
twist some copper ornaments in it. She’d be 
heftier if anything, a real mountain of a 
woman, stronger than most of the men in the 
tribe, able to wield a spear or club. The same 
sleepy brutish eyes, but the lower lip would 
jut out in a more openly sullen and domineer- 
ing way. It was only too easy to imagine 
what she’d do to the unlucky maidens her 
husband showed too much interest in. Or how 
she would pound tribal policy into, his head 
when they retired to their hut. Or how her 
voice would thunder out the death chants the 
women sang to aid the men away at war. 

Then Mrs. Sawtelle and Mrs. Carr, who had 
progressed to the top table'along with himself 
and Mrs. Gunnison. Mrs. Sawtelle first. 
Make her skinnier. Scarify the flat cheeks with 
ornamental ridges. Tattoo the spine. Witch 
woman. Bitter as quinine bark because her 
husband was ineffectual. Think of her pranc- 
ing before a spike-studded fetish. Think of 
her screeching incantations and ripping off a 
chicken’s head — 

“Norman, you’re playing out of turn,” said 
Mrs. Gunnison. 

“Sorry.” 



And Mrs. Carr. Shrivel her a bit. Leave 
only a few wisps of hair on the parchment skull. 
Take away the glasses, and then her eyes 
would be gummy. She’d blink and peer short- 
sightedly, and leer toothlessly, and flutter her 
bony claws. A nice harmless old squaw, who’d 
gather the tribe’s children around her and tell 
them legends. But her jaw would still be able 
to snap like a steel trap, and her cla wlike hands 
would be deft at applying arrow poison, and 
she wouldn’t really need her eyes because she’d 
have other ways of seeing things and even the 
bravest warrior would grow nervous if she 
looked too long in his direction. 

“Those experts at the top table are awfully 
quiet,” called Gunnison with a laugh. “They 
must be taking the game very seriously.” 

Witch women, all three of them, engaged in 
booting their husbands to the top of the tribal 
hierarchy. 

From the dark doorway at the far end of 
the room. Totem was peering curiously, as if 
weighing some similar possibility. 

But Norman could not fit Tansy into the 
picture. He could visualize physical changes, 
like frizzing her hair, and putting some big 
gold rings in her ears and a painted design on 
her forehead. But he could not picture her 
as belonging to the same tribe. She persisted 
in his imagination as a stranger woman, a cap- 
tive, eyed with suspicion and hate by the rest. 
Or perhaps a woman' of the same tribe, but 
one who had done something to forfeit the 
trust of all the other women. A priestess who 
had violated taboo. A witch woman who had 
renounced witchcraft. 

Abruptly his field of vision narrowed to the 
score pad. Evelyn Sawtelle was idly scribbling 
stick figures as Mrs. Carr deliberated over a 
lead. First the stick figure of a man with arms 
raised and three or four balls above his head, 
as if he. were juggling. Then the stick figure 
of a queen, indicated by crown and skirt. 
Then a little tower, with battlements. Then 
an L-sbaped thing with a stick figure hanging 
from it — a gallows. Finally, a truck bearing 
down on a man whose arms were extended to- 
ward it in fear. 

Just five scribbles. But he knew that four 
of them were connected with a bit of unusual 
knowledge buried somewhere in his mind. A 
glance at the exposed dummy gave him the 
clue. 

Cards. 

But this bit of knowledge was from the an- 



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cient history of cards, when the whole deck was 
drenched with magic, when there was a Knight 
between the Jack and the Queen, when the 
suits were swords, batons, cups, and money, 
and when there were twenty-two special tarot 
cards in the pack, of which today only the 
Joker remained. Tarot cards were used for 
fortunetelling. 

Four of the tarot cards were the Juggler, the 
Empress, the Tower, and the Hanged Man. 

Only the fifth stick figure, that of the man. 
and truck, did not fit in. But it gave him a 
peculiarly personal shudder. Death by being 
crushed or mangled, as in an automobile acci- 
dent, was his pet phobia. 

. Mrs. Sawtelle scratched out the stick figures 
and looked up at him sullenly. 

Mrs. Gunnison leaned forward, lips moving 
as if she might be counting trump. 

Mrs. Carr smiled, and made her lead. The 
risen wind began to make the same intermit- 
tent roaring sound it had for a moment earlier 
in the evening. 

Why not, he asked himself. Three witch 
women, using magic as Tansy had, to advance 
their husband’s careers and their own. Making 
use of their husband’s special knowledge to give 



magic a modern twist. Suspicious and worried 
because Tansy had given up magic; afraid she’d 
found a much stronger variety, and was plan- 
ning to make use of it. 

And Tansy — suddenly unprotected, possibly 
unaware of the change in their attitude toward 
her because, in giving up magic, she had lost 
her sensitivity to the supernatural, her 
“woman’s intuition.” 

Why not carry it a step further? Maybe all 
women were the same. Guardians of mankind’s 
ancient customs and traditions — including the 
practice of witchcraft. Fighting their hus- 
band’s battles from behind the scenes, by 
sorcery. Keeping it a secret; and, on those 
occasions when they were discovered, con- 
veniently explaining it as feminine susceptibil- v 
ity to superstitious fads. 

Half of the human race still actively prac- 
ticing sorcery. - 

Why not? 

“It’s your play, Norman,” said Mrs. Saw- 
telle, sweetly. 

“You look as if you had something on your 
mind,” said Mrs. Gunnison. 

“How are you getting along up there, 



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Norm?” her husband called. “Those women 
got you buffaloed?” 

Buffaloed? He came back to reality with a 
jerk. That was just what they almost had 
done. And all because the human imagination 
was a thoroughly unreliable instrument, like a 
rubber ruler. Let’s see, if he played his queen 
it might set up a king in Mrs. Gunnison’s hand 
so she could get in and run her spades. 

After that round. Tansy served refreshments, 
and the usual shop talk began. 

“Saw Pollard today,” Gunnison remarked, 
helping himself to a section of chocolate cake. 
“Told me he’d be meeting with the trustees 
tomorrow morning, to decide among other 
things on the chairmanship in sociology.” 

Hervey Sawtelle choked on a crumb 'and al- 
most lost his coffeecup. 

Norman caught Mrs. Sawtelle glaring at him 
vindictively. She changed her face and mur- 
mured, “How interesting.” He smiled. That 
kind of hate he could understand. No need 
to confuse it with witchcraft. 

He went to the kitchen to get Mrs. Garr a 
glass of water, and met Mrs. Gunnison coming 
out of the bedroom. She was slipping a leather- 
bound booklet into her capacious handbag. It 
recalled to his mind Tansy’s diary. Probably 
an address book. 

Totem slipped out from behind her, giving 
what sounded like a hiss as he dodged past her 
feet. 

“I loathe the animal,” said Mrs. Carr 
bluntly, and walked past him. 

Professor Carr had made arrangements for 
a final rubber, men at one table, women at the 
other. 

“A barbaric arrangement,” said Tansy, wink- 
ing. “You really don’t think we can play 
bridge at all.” 

“On the contrary, my dear, I think you play 
very well,” Carr replied seriously. “But I con- 
fess that at times I prefer to play with men. 
I can get a better idea of what’s going on in 
their minds. Whereas women still baffle me.” 

“As they should, dear,” added Mrs. Carr, 
bringing a flurry of laughter. 

The cards suddenly began to run freakishly, 
with abnormal distribution of suits, and play 
took a wild turn. But Norman found it im- 
possible to concentrate, which made Sawtelle 
an even more jittery partner than usual. 

He kept listening to what the women were 
saying at the other table. His rebellious im- 
agination persisted in reading hidden meanings 



into the most innocuous remarks. 

“You usually hold wonderful hands. Tansy. 
But now you don’t seem to have any,” said 
Mrs. Carr. But suppose she was referring to 
the kind of hand you wrapped in flannel? 

“Oh, well, unlucky in cards .- . . you know.” 
How had Mrs. Sawtelle meant to finish the 
remark? Lucky in love? Luck in sorcery? 
Idiotic notion! 

“That’s two psychic bids you’ve made in 
succession, Tansy. Better watch out. We’ll 
catch up with you.” What might not a psychic 
bid stand for in Mrs. Gunnison’s vocabulary? 
Some kind of bluff in witchcraft? A pretense 
at giving up conjuring? 

“I wonder,” .Mrs. Carr murmured sweetly 
to Tansy, “if you’re hiding a very strong hand 
this time, dear, and making a trap pass?” 

Rubber ruler. That was the trouble with 
imagination. According to a rubber ruler, an 
elephant would be no bigger than a mouse, a 
jagged line and a curve might be equally 
straight. He tried to think about the slam he 
had contracted for. 

“The girls talk a good game of bridge,” 
murmured Gunnison in an undertone. 

Gunnison and Carr came out at the long end 
of two-thousand rubber and were still crowing 
pleasantly as they stood around waiting to 
leave. 

Norman remembered a question he wanted 
to ask Mrs. Gunnison. 

“Harold was telling me you had a number 
of photographs of that cement dragon or what- 
ever it is on top of Estrey. It’s right opposite 
my window.” 

She looked at him for a moment, then 
nodded. 

“I believe I’ve got one with me. Took it 
almost a year ago.” 

She dug a rumpled snapshot out of her hand- 
bag. 

He studied it, and experienced a kind of 
shiver in reverse. This didn’t make sense at 
all. Instead of being toward the center of 
the roof ridge, or near the bottom, it was al- 
most at the top. Just what was involved here? 
A practical joke stretching over a period of 
days or weeks? Or— His mind balked, like 
a skittish horse. Yet — Eppur si muove. 

He turned it over. There was a confusing 
inscription on the back, in greasy red crayon. 
Mrs. Gunnison took it out of his hands, to 
show the others. 

“The wind sounds like a lost soul,” said Mrs. 



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Carr, hugging her coat around her as Norman 
opened the door. 

“But a rather noisy one,” her husband added 
with a chuckle. 

When the last of them were gone, Tansy 
slipped her arm around his ‘waist, and said, “I 
must be getting old. It wasn’t nearly as much 
of a trial as usual. They seemed almost 
human.” 

Norman looked down at her intently. She 
was smiling peacefully. Totem had come out 
of hiding and was rubbing against her legs. - 
.. . With an effort Norman nodded and said, 
“Yes, they did.” 

V. . ~ - 

There, were shadows everywhere, and the 
ground under his feet was treacherous and of 
uncertain texture. The dreadful strident roar- 
ing, which seemed to have gone on since eter- 
nity began; shook his very bones. Yet it did 
..not drown out the flat, nasty monotone of that 
other voice which kept telling hiih to do some- 
thing — he could not be sure what except that 
it involved injury to himself, although he 
heard the voice as plainly as if someone were 
talking inside his head. He tried to struggle 
away from the direction in which the voice 
wanted him to go, but heavy hands jerked 
him back. . He wanted to look up over his 
shoulder at something he knew would be taller 
than himself, but he couldn’t muster the cour- 
age.^ Therfe were great rushing clouds over- 
head making the shadows, and they would 
momentarily assume the form of gigantic faces 
brooding down^ on him, faces with pits of dark- 
ness for eyes, and sullen, savage lips, and great 
masses of hair streaming behind. 

He must not do the thing the voice com- 
manded. And yet he must. He struggled 
wildly. The sound rose to a rock-shattering 
pandemonium. The clouds became a black, 
ragged, all-engulfing torrent. ‘ ; 

And then suddenly the bedroom became 
mixed up with the other picture, and he strug- 
gled awake. 

He rubbed, his face, which was thick with 
sleep, and tried unsuccessfully to remember 
what the voice had wanted him to do. He 
still felt the reverberations of the sound in 
his ears. 

Gloomy daylight seeped through the shades. 
The clock indicated quarter to eight. 

Tansy was still curled up, one arm out of 
the covers. A smile seemed to be tickling the 

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corners of her lips and wrinkling her nose He 
slipped out carefully. His bare foot failed to 
avoid a loose carpet tack. Suppressing an 
angry grunt, he hobbled off. 

For the first time in months he botched 
shaving. Twice the new blade slid too sharply 
sideways, neatly removing tiny segments of 
skin. He glared irritably at the scowling 
face in the mirror, pulled the blade, down his 
chin very slowly, but with a little too much 
pressure, and gave himself a third nick. 

By the time he got down to. the kitchen, the 
water he had put on was boiling. As he poured 
it into the coffeepot, the wobbly handle of the 
saucepan came completely loose, and his bare 
ankles were splattered paipfufly. Totem skit- 
tered away, and then slowly^returned to his tin 
of milk. Norman cursed, and then grinned. 
What had he been telling Tansy about the 
cussedness of things? As if to prove the point 
with a final ridiculous example, he bit his 
tongue while eating coffee cake. ' Cussedness 
of things? Say rather the cussedness of the 
human nervous system! Faintly he was aware 
of a potently disturbing emotion — remnant of 
the dream? — like an unpleasant swimming 
shape glimpsed beneath weedy water. 

It seemed most akin to a dull seething anger, 
for as he hurried toward Morton Hall, he found 
himself inwardly at war with the established 
order of things— and particularly educational 
'institutions. The old sophomoric exasperation 
at the hypocrisies and compromises of civilized 
society welled up and poured over the dams 
that a mature realism had set against it. This 
was a great life for a man to be leading Cod- 
dling the immature minds of grown-up brats, 
and lucky to get one halfway promising student 
a year. Playing bridge with a bunch of old 
fogies. Catering to jittery incompetents like 
Hervey Sawtelle. Bowing to the thousand and 
one stupid rules and traditions of a second-rate 
. college. And for what! 

He knew he was being silly, but some per- 
verse quirtc kept him from pushing back this 
intrusion of juvenile emotions. ' 

Ragged clouds were moving overhead/ pre- 
saging rain. They reminded him of his dream. 
He felt the impulse to shout a childish defiance 
at those faces in the sky. 

An army truck rolled quietly by, recalling 
to his mind a little picture Evelyn Sawtelle had 
scribbled on a bridge pad. He followed it with 
his eyes. When he turned back, he saw Mrs. 
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“You’ve cut yourself,” she said brightly, 
peering closely at his face. 

“Yes, I have.” 

“How unfortunate!” 

He did not try to answer. They walked to- 
gether through the gate between Morton ^and 
Estrey. He could just make out the snout 
of the cement dragon poked over the Estrey 
gutter. , ' r . 

“I wanted to tell you last night how dis- 
tressed I was. Professor Saylor, about that 
matter of Margaret van Nice, only I didn’t 
think it was the right time. I’m dreadfully 
sorry that you had to be called in. Such a 
disgusting accusation! How you must have 
felt!” 

She seemed to misinterpret his wry grimace 
at this, for she -went on swiftly, “Of course, 1 
never once dreamed that you had done any- 
thing the least improper, but I thought there 
must be something to the girl’s story. She told 
it in such detail. Really, Professor Saylor, some 
of the girls that cStfie to Hempnell nowadays 
are terrible. Where they get such loathsome 
ideas from is quite beyond me.” 

“Would you like to know?” 

She looked up at him blankly. 

“They get them,” he told her concisely, 
“from a society which seeks simultaneously to 
stimulate and inhibit one of their basic drives. 
They get them, in brief, from a lot of dirty- 
minded adults!” 

“Really, Professor Saylor! Why — ” 

“There are a number of girls here at Hemp- 
nell who would be a lot healthier with real love 
affairs rather than imaginary ones. A fair pro- 
portion, of course, have already made satisfac- 
tory adjustments.” 

He had the satisfaction of hearing her gasp 
as he abruptly turned into Morton. His heart 
was pounding pleasantly. His lips were tight. 
When he reached his office he lifted the phone 
and asked for an on-campus number. 

“Thompson? . . . Saylor. I have a couple 
of news items for you.” 

“Good, good! What are they?” Thompson 
replied hungrily, in the tone of one who poises 
a pencil. 

"First, the subject for my address to the 
Off-campus Mothers week after next, ‘Pre- 
marital Relations and the College Student.’ 
Second, my theatrical friends — you know the 
ones I mean — will be playing in the city at 
the same time, and I shall invite them to be 
guests of the college.” 

“But — ” The poised pencil had obviously 



been dropped like a red-hot poker. 

“That’s all, -Thompson. ' Perhaps I shall have 
something more interesting another time. 
Good-by.” 

He felt a stinging sensation in his hand. He 
had been fingering a little obsidian knife he 
used for slitting envelopes. It had gashed his 
finger. Blood smeared the clear volcanic glass 
where once, he told himself, had been the blood 
of sacrifice or ritual scarification. Clumsy — 

The nine-o’clock buzzer cut" short his musing. 

He ripped a bandage from his handkerchief. 

As he hurried down the corridor, Bronstein 
fell into step with him. 

“We’re, pulling for you this morning, Dr. 
Saylor,” he murmured heartily. 

“What- do you mean?” 

Bronstein’s grin was a trifle knowing. “A 
girl who works in the president’s office told us 
they were deciding on the sociology chairman- 
ship. I sure hope the old buzzards show some 
sense for once.” 

Academic dignity stiffened Norman’s reply. 

“In any case, I will be satisfied with their de- 
cision.” 

Bronstein felt the rebuff. “Of course, I 
didn’t mean to — ” 

“Of course you didn’t.” 

He immediately regretted his sharpness. 
Why the devil should he rebuke a student for 
failing to reverence trustees as representatives 
of deity? Why pretend he didn’t want the 
chairmanship? Why conceal his contempt for 
half the faculty? The anger he. thought he 
had worked out of his system surged up with 
redoubled violence. On a sudden irresistible 
impulse he tossed his lecture notes aside and 
started in to tell the class just what he thought 
of the world and Hempnell. They might as 
well find out young! 

Fifteen minutes later he came to with a jerk 
in the middle of a sentence about “dirty- 
minded old women, in whom greed for social 
prestige has reached the magnitude of a per- 
version.” He could not remember half of what 
he had been saying. He searched the faces of 
his class. They looked excited but puzzled, 
most of them, and a few looked shocked. 
Gracine Pollard was glaring. Yes! He remem- 
bered now that he had made a neat but nasty / - 
analysis of the politic motives of a certain 
college president who could be none other than 
Randolph Pollard. And somewhere he had 
started off on that premarital-relations busi- 
ness, and had been ribald about it, to say the 
least. And he had — 



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Exploded. Like a Prince Rupert drop. strident, pulsating roar. The unmusical voice- 

He finished off with half a dozen lame gen- that spoke into his ear had the same quality, 
eralities. He knew they must be quite inap- “Isn’t it a pretty storm?” 

propriate, for the looks grew more puzzled. Evelyn Sawtelle was smiling for once. It 

But the class seemed very remote. A shiver had a grotesque effect on her features, as if a 
was spreading downward from the base of his horse had suddenly discovered how to smirk, 
skull, all because of a few words that had “You’ve heard the news, of course?” she went 
printed themselves in his mind. on. “About Hervey?” 

The words were: ~ A fingernail has flicked a - Hervey popped out from behind her. He 
psychic filament. was grinning, too, but embarrassedly. He 

He shook his head, jumbling the type. The mumbled something that was lost in the storm, 
words vanished. and extended his hand vaguely, as if he were 

There were thirty minutes of class time left, in a receiving line. 

He wanted to get away. He announced a sur- Evelyn never took her eyes off Norman, 

prise quiz, chalked up two questions, and left “Isn’t it wonderful?” she hissed. “Of course, 
the room. we expected it, bift still — ” 

Norman guessed. He forced himself to grasp 
The cut finger had started to bleed again Hervey’s hand, just as the latter was withdraw- 
through the 'bandage, and there was blood on ing it flusteredly. 

the chalk. . • “Congratulations, old man,” he said briefly. 

And dried blood on the obsidian knife. He “I’m very proud of Hervey,” Evelyn an- 
resisted the impulse to finger it, and sat star- nounced possessively, as if he were a small boy 
ing at the top of his desk. . . who had won a prize for good behavior. 

It all went back to that witchcraft business, Her eyes followed Norman’s hand. “Oh, 
he told himself. It had shaken him much more you’ve cut yourself.” The smirk seemed to 
than he had dared to admit. He had tried to be a permanent addition to her features. The 
put it out of his mind too quickly. And Tansy wind wailed fiendishly. “Come, Hervey!” 
had appeared to forget it too quickly, too. A And she walked out' into the storm as if it 
person could not shake an obsession that easily, weren’t there. 

He must thrash it out with her, again and Hervey goggled at her in surprise. He mum- 
again, or the thing would fester. bled something apologetic to Norman, pumped 

. - But with Tansy seeming so happy and re- his hand up and down again, and then obe- 
lieved the last three days, that might be the dieritly scampered after his wife, 
wrong course to take, the selfish course — Norman watched them. There was some- 

His eyes started to stray toward the window, thing unpleasantly impressive about the way 
but the telephone recalled him. Evelyn Sawtelle marched through the sheets 

“Professor Saylor? ... I’m calling for Dr. of rain, getting both of them drenched to no 
Pollard. Could you come in and see Dr. Pol- purpose excepP'To satisfy some strange ob- 
lard this afternoon? ... Four o’clock? . ... stinacy. He could see that Hervey was trying 
Thank you.” to hurry her and not succeeding. Lightning 

He leaned back with a smile. At least he flared viciously, but there was no reaction ap- 
had gotten the chairmanship. parent in her angular, awkward frame. Once 

It grew darker as the day progressed, the again he became dimly aware of an alien, explo- 
ragged clouds sweeping lower and lower. But sive emotion deep within him. 
the storm held off until almost four. And so that little poodle dog of hers, he 

Big raindrops splattered the dusty steps as thought, is to have the final say on the educa- 
te ducked into the portico of the Administra- tional policy of the sociology department, 
tion Building. Thunder crackled and crashed. Then what the devil does Pollard want to see 
as if acres of metal sheeting were being shaken me for? To offer his commiserations? 
above the clouds. He turned back to watch. Almost an hour later he slammed out of 
Lightning threw the Gothic roofs -and towers Pollard’s office, tense with anger, wondering 
into sharp relief. Again the crackle, building why he had not handed in his resignation, on 
to a crash. He remembered he had left a win- the spot. To be interrogated about his actions 
dow open in his office. But there was nothing like some kid, on the obvious instigation of 
that would be damaged by the wet. busybodies like Thompson and Mrs. Carr and 

Wind swooped down past the portico with a Gracine Pollard! To have to listen to a lot of 

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hogwash about his “attitudes” and “the Hemp- 
nell spirit,” with veiled insinuations about his 
“moral code.” 

At least he had given somewhat better than 
he had taken! At least he had forced a note 
of confusion into that suave, oratorical voice, 
and made those tufted gray eyebrows pop up 
and down more than once! 

Mrs. Gunnison was standing at the door of 
her husband’s office. Like a big, strong slug,, 
he told himself, noting her twisted stockings 
and handbag stuffed full as a grab bag, the 
inevitable camera dangling beside it. His ex- 
asperation shifted to her. 

“Yes, I cut myself!” he told her, observing 
the direction of her glance. His voice was 
hoarse from the tirade he had delivered to. 
Pollard. 

Then he remembered something and did not 
stop to weigh his words. “Mrs. Gunnison, you 
picked up my wife’s diary last night — by mis- 
take. Will you please give it to me?” 

“You’re mistaken,” she replied tolerantly. 

“I saw you coming out of her bedroom with 
it.” 

Her eyes became lazy slits. “In that case 
you’d have mentioned it last night. You’re 
overwrought, Norman. I understand.” She 
nodded toward Pollard’s office. “It must have 
been quite a disappointment.” 

“I’m asking you to return the diary!” 

“And you’d really better look after that cut,” 
she continued unruffled. “It doesn’t look any 
too well bandaged, and it seems to be bleeding. 
Infections can be nasty things.” 

He turned on his heel and walked away. 
Her reflection confronted him, murky and dim 
in the glass of the outer door. She was smiling. 

Outside Norman looked at his hand. Evi- 
dently he had opened the cut when he banged 
Pollard’s desk. He drew the bandage tighter. 

The storm had blown over, and yellow sun- 
light was flooding from under the low curtain 
of clouds to the west, flashing richly from the 
wet roofs and upper windows. - Surplus rain 
was sprinkling from the trees. The campus 
was empty. A flurry of laughter from the girls’ 
dormitories etched itself on the silence. He 
shrugged aside his anger, and let his senses 
absorb the new-washed beauty of the scene. 

He prided himself on being able to enjoy the 
moment at hand. It seemed to him one of 
the chief signs of maturity. 

He tried to think like a painter, identifying 
hues and shades, searching for the faint rose 



or green hidden in the shadows. There was 
really something to be said for Gothic architec- 
ture. Even though it was not functional, it 
carried the eye along pleasantly from one fanci- 
ful bit of stonework to the next/ Now take 
those leafy finials topping the Estrey tower — 

And then suddenly the sunlight was colder 
than ice, and the roofs of Hempnell were like 
the roofs of hell, and the faint laughter like the 
crystalline cachinations of fiends. Before he 
knew it, he had swerved sharply away from 
Morton, off the path and on to the wet grass, 
although he was only halfway across campus. 

No need to go back to the office, he told 
himself shakily. Just a long climb for a few 
notes. They can wait until tomorrow. And 
why not go home a different way tonight, 
around Estrey? Why always take the direct 
route that led through the gate between Estrey 
and Morton? Why — 

He forced himself to look, up again at the 
open window of his office. It' was empty now, 
as he might have expected. That other thing 
must have been some moving blur in his vision, 
and imagination had done the rest, as when a 
small shadow scurrying across the floor be- 
comes a spider. 

Or perhaps a shade flapping outward — 

But a shadow could hardly crawl along the 
ledge outside the windows. A blur could 
hardly move so slowly or retain such a definite 
form. 

And then the way the thing had waited, 
peering in, before it dropped down inside. 
Like . . . like a — 

Of course it was all nonsense. And there 
really was no need whatsoever to bother about 
fetching those notes or closing the window. It 
would be just like giving in to a neurotic fear. 
There was a rumble of distant thunder. 

— Like a very large cat, the color and texture 
of stone. 

• VI. 

“ — and henceforth his soul is believed to be 
knit up in a manner with the stone. If it 
breaks, it is an evil omen for him; they say that 
thunder has struck the stone and that he who 
owns it will soon die — ” 

No use. His eyes kept wondering over the 
mass of print. He laid “The Golden Bough” 
aside, and leaned back. From somewhere to 
the east, the thunder still throbbed faintly. But 
the familiar leather of the easy-chair imparted 
a sense of security and detachment. 

Suppose, just as an intellectual exercise, you 



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tried to analyze it in terms of sorcery. 

The dragon would be a clear case of sym- 
pathetic magic. Mrs. Gunnison animated it 
by operating on the photographs. And if you 
hypothesized a bull-roarer, or the recording of 
one, it would provide a neat magical explana- 
tion for the wind last night and the storm and 
wind today — both associated with Mrs. Saw- 
Aelle. And then the similar sound in his 
dream — He wrinkled his nose in distaste. 

He could hear Tansy calling Totem from the 
back porch, rattling his little tin pan. 

Put today’s self-injurious acts in another 
category.^ The obsidian knife. The razor 
blade. The cranky saucepan. The carpet tack. 
The match that he had let burn his fingers a 
few minutes ago. 

Perhaps the razor blade had been charmed, 
like the enchanted sword or ax which wounds 
the person who wields it. Perhaps someone 
had stolen, the blood-smeared obsidian knife 
and dropped it in water, so the wound would 
keep flowing. That was a well-established 
superstition. 

A dog was trotting along the sidewalk out 
in front. He could distinctly hear the clop - 
clop of paws. ■ 

Tansy was still calling Totem. ' 

Perhaps a sorcerer had commanded him to 
destroy himself by inches — or millimeters, con- 
sidering the razor blade. That would explain 
a 11 the self -injurious acts at one swoop. The 
flat voice in the dream had ordered him to 
do it. 

The dog had turned up the drive. His claws 
made a grating sound 'on the concrete. 

The tarot-card diagrams scribbled by Mrs. 
Sawtelle would figure as some magical control 
mechanism. The stick figure of the man and 
the truck had grim implications if interpreted 
in the light of his irrational fear of automobile 
accidents. 

It really didn’t sound so much like a dog. 
Probably the neighbor's boy dragging home 
by jerks some indeterminate bulky object. 
The neighbor’s boy devoted all his spare time 
to collecting old metal. . 

“Totem! Totem!” Followed by the sound 
of the back door closing. 

Finally, that very trite “sense of a presence” 
just behind him. Taller than himself, hands 
poised to grab. - Only whenever you looked 
over your shoulder, it dodged. Something like 
that had figured in the dream— the source, 
perhaps, of the flat voice. And in that case — 

His patience snapped. An intellectual exer- 



cise, all right! For morons! He stubbed out 
his cigarette.. 

“Well, I’ve done my duty. That cat can 
sing for his supper.’* Tansy sat on the arm 
of the chair and put her hand on Norman’s 
shoulder. “How are things going at college?” 

He smiled up at her. He had been afraid of 
that question. 

“Not so good,” he replied lightly. 

“The chairmanship?” - 

He nodded. “Sawtelle got it.” 

Tansy cursed fluently. It did him good to 
hear her. 

“Make you want to take up conjuring 
again?” Hold on! He shouldn’t have said 
that. 

She looked at him closely. 

“How do you. mean that?” she asked. 

“Just a joke ” 

“Are you sure? I know you’ve been worry- 
ing about me these last few days, ever since 
you found out. Wondering if I were going 
totally neurotic on you, and watching for the 
next symptoms. Now, dear, you don’t have to 
deny it. It was the natural thing. I expected 
you’d be suspicious of me for a while. With 
your knowledge of psychiatry, it would be im- 
possible for you to believe that anyone could 
shake off an obsession so quickly. And I’ve 
been so happy to get free from all that, that 
your suspicions haven’t bothered me. I’ve 
known they would wear off.” 

“But, darling, I honestly haven’t been suspi- 
cious,” he protested. “Maybe I ought to have 
been, but I haven’t.” 

Her gray-green eyes were enigmatic and 
serious. She said slowly, “Then what are you 
worrying about?” ‘ 

“Nothing at all.” Here was where he had 
to be very careful. 

She shook her head. “That’s not true. You 
are worrying. Oh, I know there are some 
things on your mind that you haven’t told me 
about. It isn’t that.” 

He looked up quickly. 

She nodded. “About the chairmanship. 
And that some student has been threatening 
you. And about that Van Nice girl.” She 
smiled briefly, as he started to protest. “Oh, 
I know you aren’t the type who seduces love- 
struck and innocent mimeograph operators.” 
She became serious again.* “Those are all minor 
matters, things you can take in your stride. 
You didn’t tell me about them because you 
were afraid I might backslide, from the desire 



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to protect you. Isn’t that right?” 

“Yes.” 

“But I have the feeling that what you’re 
worrying about goes much deeper than that. 
Yesterday and today I’ve even felt that you 
wanted to turn to me for help, and somehow 
didn’t dare.” 

He paused, as if thinking exactly how to 
phrase his answer. But he was studying her 
face, trying to read the exact meaning of each 
little familiar quirk of expressoin around the 
mouth and eyes. She looked very contained, 
but that was only a mask, he thought. Actu- 
ally, in spite of everything she said, she must 
still be poised close to the brink of her obses- 
sion. One little push, such as a few careless 
words on his part — How the devil had he 
ever let himself get so enmeshed in his own 
worries and those ridiculous projections of his 
own cranky imagination? Here was the only 
thing that mattered — the mind behind this 
smooth brown forehead and these clear, gray- 
green eyes; to steer that mind away from any 
such ridiculous notions as those he had been 
indulging in, the last few days. 

“To tell the truth,” he said, “I have been 
worried about you. I thought it would hurt 
your self-confidence if I let you know. Maybe 
I was unwise — you seem to have sensed it, any- 
way — but that's what I thought. The way 
you feel now, of course, it can’t possibly hurt 
you to know.” 

It occurred to him that it was easier to lie 
convincingly when you loved someone, pro- 
vided the lie were for that person’s sake. 

She did not give in at once. “Are you 
sure?” she said. “I still have the feeling 
there’s more to it.” 

Suddenly she smiled and yielded to the 
pressure of his arm. “It must be the Mac- 
Knight in me — my Scotch ancestry,” she said 
laughing. “Awfully stubborn, you know. 
Monomaniacs. When we’re crazy on a thing, 
we’re completely crazy, but when we drop it, 
we drop it all at once. Like my great-uncle 
Peter. You know, the one who left the Pres- 
byterian ministry and gave up Christianity on 
the very same day he proved to his satisfaction 
there was no God. He was seventy-two at the 
time.” 

There was a long and grumbling roll of 
thunder. The storm was swinging back. 

“Well, I’m very glad you’re only worried 
about me,” she continued. “It’s compli- 
mentary, and I like it.” 

She was smiling happily, but there was still 



something enigmatic about the eyes, something 
withheld. As he was congratulating himself 
on carrying it off successfully, it suddenly oc- 
curred to him that two could play at the game 
of lying. She might be holding something back 
herself, with the idea of reassuring him. She 
might be trying to protect him from her own 
blacker worries. Her subtlety might undercut 
his own. No sane reason to suspect that, and 
yet— ' 

“Suppose I get us a- drink,” she said, “and 
we decide whether or not you leave Hempnell 
this year, and look for greener fields.” 

He nodded. She started around the bend in 
the L-shaped room for the sideboard. 

“—and yet, you could live with a person and 
love a person for fifteen years, and not know 
what was behind their eyes.” 

There was the rattle of glassware, and the 
friendly sound of a full bottle set down on a 
table. 

Then, timed to the thunder, but much, much 
closer, a shuddering, animal scream of an- 
guished fear. It was cut off before Norman 
had sprung to his feet. 

As he cleared the angle of the room, he saw 
Tansy going through the kitchen door. She 
was a little ahead of him down the back steps. 

Light fanned out from the windows of the 
opposite house into the service yard. It re- 
vealed the sprawled body of Totem, head 
mashed flat against the concrete. 

He heard a little sound start and stop in 
Tansy’s throat. It might have been a gasp, 
or a sob, or a snarl. 

The light revealed a little more than the 
body. He moved so that his feet covered the 
two prominent scuffs in the concrete just be- 
yond the body. They might have been caused 
by the impact of a brick or heavy stone, per- 
haps the thing that had killed Totem, but there 
was something so suggestive about their rela- 
tive position that he did not want Tansy’s im- 
agination to have a chance to work on them. 

She lifted her face. She was never one to 
show much emotion. 

“You’d better go in,” he said. 

“You’ll—” 

He nodded. “Yes.” 

She stopped halfway up the stairs. “That 
was a rotten, rotten thing for anybody to do.” 

“Yes. We’ll try to find out who.” 

She left the door open. A moment later she 
came out and laid on the porch railing a square 



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of heavy cloth, covered with shed hair. Then 
she went in again and shut the door. 

He rolled up the cat’s body and stopped at 
the garage for the spade. He did not spend 
time searching for any brick or heavy stone or 
other missile. Nor did he examine closer the 
heavy footmarks he fancied he saw in the grass 
beyond the service yard. 

Lightning began ■ to flicker as his spade bit 
into .the soft ground by the back fence. He 
kept his mind strictly on the task at hand. He 
worked steadily, but without undue- haste. 
When he patted down the last spadeful of 
earth and started for the house, the lightning 
flashes were stronger, making the moments in 
between even darker. A wind had started up 
and was dragging at the leaves. 

He did not hurry. What if the lightning did 



When Norman entered the living room his 
face was composed. Tansy was sitting in the 
straight chair, leaning a little forward, an in- 
tent moody expression around her eyes. Her 
hands were playing absently with a bit of 
twine. 

He carefully lit a cigarette. ■ v 

“Do you want that drink now?” he asked, 
not too casually, not too sharply. 

“No, thanks. You have one.”' Her hands 
kept- on knotting and unknotting the twine. 

He sat down and picked up his book. From 
the easy-chair he could watch her unobtru- 
sively. 

And now that he had no grave to dig or . 
other mechanical task to perform, his thoughts 
were not to be denied. But at least he could 
keep them circling in a little isolated sphere 




indistinctly show him a large dog near the 
house toward the front? There were several 
large dogs in the neighborhood. They were 
not savage. Totem had not been killed by a 
dog. 

Deliberately he replaced, the spade in the 
garage and walked back to the house. Only 
when he got inside and looked back through ' 
the screen did his thoughts break loose for a 
moment. 

The lightning flash, brightest yet, showed 
the dog coming around the corner.of the house. 
He had only a glimpse. A gray dog who 
walked stiff-legged. He quickly closed the door 
and shot home the bolt. 

Then he remembered that the study windows 
were open. He must close them. Quickly. 

It might rain in. 

UNKNOWN WORLDS ' 3 



inside his skull, without affecting either the 
expression of his face or, the direction- of his 
other thoughts, which were protectively focused 
on Tansy. 

“Sorcery is,” went the thoughts inside the 
sphere. “Something has been conjured down 
from a roof. Women are witches fighting for 
their men. Tansy was a .witch. She was 
guarding you. But you made her stop.” 

“In that case,” he replied swiftly to the 
thoughts inside the sphere, “why isn’t Tansy 
aware of what’s happening? It can’t be denied 
that she has acted very relieved and happy.” 
.“Are you sure she isn’t aware or becoming 
aware?” answered the thoughts inside the 
sphere. “Besides, in losing her weapons, she 
has lost her sensitivity, which had probably 
declined in acuteness through familiarity. 



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Without microscope or telescope, a scientist 
would be no better able than a savage to see 
the germs of typhoid or the moons of Mars. 
His natural sensory equipment would even be 
inferior to that of the savage.” 

And the imprisoned thoughts buzzed vio- 
lently, like bees seeking escape from a stopped- 
up hive. 

“Norman,” Tansy said abruptly, without 
looking up at him, “you found and burned 
that hand in your watch charm, didn’t you?” 

He thought a moment. “Yes, I did,” he 
said lightly. 

“I’d really forgotten about it. There were 
so many.” 

He turned a page, and then another. Thun- 
der crackled loudly, and rain began to patter 
on the roof. 

“Norman, you burned the diary, too, didn’t 
you? You were right -in doing it, of course. 

I held it back, because it didn’t contain actual 
curses, only the formulas for them. So in a 
twisted illogical way .1 pretended it didn’t 
count.” 

That was harder to answer. He felt as if 
he were playing a guessing game and Tansy 
was getting perilously “warm.” The thoughts 
in the sphere buzzed triumphantly, “Mrs. 
Gunnison has the diary. Now she knows all 
of Tansy’s protective charms.” 

But he answered, “Yes, I did burn it. I’m 
sorry, but I thought — ” 

“Of course,” Tansy cut in. “You were quite 
right.” Her fingers played more rapidly with 
the cord. She did not look down at it. 

Lightning showed flashes of pale street arid 
trees through the window. The patter of rain 
grew in volume. But through it he fancied 
he heard the scrunch of paws on the drive. 
Ridiculous — rain and wind were making too 
much noise. 

His eyes were attracted to the pattern of 
knots Tansy’s restless fingers were weaving. 
They were complicated, strong-looking knots - 
which fell' apart at a single cunning jerk, re- 
minding him of how Tansy had studied as- 
siduously the cat’s cradles of the Indians. It 
also recalled to his mind how knots are used' by 
the primitives to tie and loose the winds, to 
hold loved ones, to noose far-off enemies, to 
inhibit or free all manner of physical and 
physiological processes. And how the Fates 
weave destinies like threads. ,He found some- 
thing very pleasing in the pattern of the knots 
and the rhythmic movements which produced 



them. They seemed to signify security, 
they fell apart. 

“Norman” — the voice was preoccupied and 
rapid — “what was that snapshot you asked 
Hulda Gunnison to show you last night?” 

He felt a brief flurry of panic. She was get- 
ting “very warm.” This was the stage of the 
game where you cried out, “Hot!” 

And then he heard the heavy, unyielding 
clum'p-clum'p on the boards of the front porch, 
seeming to move questingly along the wall. 
The sphere of alien thoughts began to exert an 
irresistible centrifugal pressure. He felt his 
sanity being smothered between the assaults 
from without and within. Very deliberately he 
shaved off the ash of his cigarette against the 
edge of the tray. 

“It was of the roof of Estrey,” he said 
casually. “Gunnison told me she’d taken a 
number of pictures of that sort and I wanted 
to see a sample.” 

“Some sort of creature in it, wasn’t there?” 
Knots flickered into being and vanished with 
bewildering speed. It seemed to him suddenly 
that more than twine was being manipulated, 
and more than empty air tied and loosed. As 
if the knots were somehow creating an in- 
fluence, as an electric current along a twisted 
wire creates a complex magnetic field. 

“No,” he said, and then made himself 
chuckle, “unless you count in a stray gargoyle 
or two.” 

< 

Thunder ripped and crashed deafeningly. 
Lightning might have struck in the neighbor- 
hood. Tansy did not move a muscle in re- 
sponse. “That was a Lulu,” he started to say. 
Then, as the thunder crash trailed off in rum- 
blings and there was a second’s lull in the rain, 
he heard the sound of something leaping heavily 
down from the front edge of the porch toward 
that part of the wall where the large low win- 
dow was set. 

He got to his feet and walked toward the 
window, as if to look out at the storm. As 
he passed Tansy’s chair he saw that her rip- 
pling fingers were creating a strange knot 
resembling a flower, with seven loops for petals. 
She stared like a sleepwalker. Then he was at 
the window, shielding her. 

The next lightning flash showed him what 
he knew he must see. It crouched, facing the 
window. The head was still blank and crude 
as an unfinished skull. 

In the ensuing surge of blackness, the sphere 



/ 



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VII. 



of alien thoughts expanded with instant swift- 
ness, until it occupied his entire mind. 

He glanced behind him. Tansy’s hands were 
still. The strange seven-looped knot was poised 
between them. ' 

Just as he was turning back, he saw the 
hands jerk apart and the loops whip in like a 
seven-fold snare — and hold. 

And in that sanie moment of turning he saw 
the street brighten like day and a great ribbon 
of lightning split the tall elm opposite and fork 
into several streams which streaked across the 
street toward the window and the stony form 
upreared against it. 

Then — blinding light, and a tingling electri- 
cal surge through his whole body. 

But in' his mind’s eye was indelibly traced 
the incandescent track of the lightning, whose 
multiple streams, racing toward the upreared 
stony form, had converged upon it as if drawn 
together by a seven-fold knot. 

The sphere of alien thoughts expanded be- 
yond his skull at a dizzy rate, vanished. 

His gasping, uncontrollable laughter rose 
above the dying reverberations of the titan 
thunder blast. He dragged open the window, 
pulled a bridge lamp up to it, jerked the cover 
from the lamp so its light flooded outward. 

“Look, Tansy!” he called, his words mixed 
with the manic laughter. “Look, what those 
crazy students have done!” She must be made 
to think it was a joke. “Those frat men, I bet, 
I kidded in class. Look* what they dragged 
down from campus and stuck in our front 
yard. Of all the crazy things — we’ll have to 
call Buildings & Grounds to take it away to- 
morrow.” 

Rain splattered in his face. There was a 
sulphurous, metallic odor. Her hand touched 
his shoulder. She stared out blankly, her eyes 
still asleep. 

It stood there, propped against the wall, solid 
and inert as only the inorganic can be. In. 
some places the cement was darkened and 
fused. 

“And of all mad coincidences,” he gasped, 
“the lightning had to go and strike it!” 

On an impulse, he reached out his hand, and 
touched it. At the feel of the rough, unyield- 
ing surface, still hot from the lightning flash, 
his laughter died, and a grim lucidity flooded 
his mind. 

“Eppur si muove he murmured to himself, 
so low that even Tansy, standing beside him, 
might not have heard, “j Eppur si muove. 9 * 



Next day he went around campus like a man 
in a daze. He had had a long and heavy sleep, 
but he looked as if he were stupefied by weari- 
ness. Even Harold Gunnison remarked on it. 

“It’s nothing,” he replied. “I’m just lazy.” 

Gunnison smiled skeptically. “You’ve been 
working too hard. That’s the temptation we’re 
all up against. But it butchers efficiency. Bet- 
ter ration your hours of work. Your jobs won’t 
go hungrySf you feed them ten hours a day. 

“Trustees are queer cusses,” he continued 
with apparent irrelevance. “And Pollard’s 
more a politician than an educator. But he 
brings in the money, and that’s what college 
presidents are for.”' 

Norman indicated that he appreciated the 
sympathy, but he felt as far removed from 
Gunnison as from the hordes of gayly dressed 
students who filled the walks and socialized in 
clusters. As if there were a wall of faintly 
clouded glass between. His only aim — and 
even that was blurred — was to prolong his 
present state of fatigued reaction from last 
night’s events, and to avoid all thoughts. 

Thoughts were dangerous. He felt their pres- 
ence here and there in his brain/like pockets 
of poison, harmless as long as you left them 
encysted and did not prick them. One was 
more familiar than the others. It had been 
there last night. HeTelt vaguely thankful that 
he could not longer see inside of it. 

Another was concerned with Tansy, and why 
she had seemed so cheerful and forgetful this 
morning. 

Another — a very large one — was sunk so 
deeply in his mind that he could only perceive 
a small section of its globular surface. He 
knew it was connected with an unfamiliar emo- 
tion that he had sensed yesterday more than 
once, and he knew that it must under no cir- 
cumstances be disturbed. He could feel it 
pulsate slowly and rhythmically, like a mon- 
ster asleep in mud. 

Another had to do with knots and lightning. 

Another — tiny but prominent— was some- 
how concerned with cards. 

And there were more, many more. 

His situation was akin to that of the legend- 
ary hero who must travel through a long and 
narrow corridor, without once touching the 
morbidly enticing, poisoned walls. 

He knew he could not avoid contact with 
them indefinitely, but in the meantime the 
thought-cysts might shrink and disappear. 



UNKNOWN WORLDS 36 



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The day fitted with his superficially dull and 
lethargic' mood. Instead of the cool spell that 
should have followed the storm, there was a 
hot foretaste of summer in the air. Student 
absences rose sharply. Those who came to 
class were inattentive, and exhibited other 
symptoms of spring fever. 

Only Bronstein seemed animated. He kept 
drawing Norman’s other students aside by 
twos and threes, and whispering to them heat- 
edly. Norman found out that he was trying 
to get up a petition of protest on Sawtelle’s 
appointment. Norman asked him to stop it. 
Bronstein refused, but in any case he seemed 
to be failing in the job of arousing the other 
students. 

Norman’s lectures were languid. He con- 
tented himself with transforming his notes into 
accurate verbal statements with a minimum of 
mental effort. He watched the pencils move 
methodically as notes were taken, or wander 
off into intricate doodles. Two girls were en- 
grossed in sketching the handsome profile of 
the fraternity president in the second row. He 
watched foreheads wrinkle as they picked up 
the thread of his lecture, smooth out again as 
they dropped it. • 

And all the while his own mind was wander- 
ing off on side tracks. They were too fugitive, 
too much like daydreams to be called thoughts. 

One began when he recalled the epigram 
about a lecture being a process of transferring 
the contents of the teacher’s notebook into the 
notebooks of the students, without allowing it 
to pass through the minds of either. That 
made him think of mimeographing. 

Mimeograph, it went on. Margaret van 
Nice. Theodore Jennings. Gun. Window- 
pane. Galileo. Scroll — (Sheer away from 
that! Forbidden territory.) 

The daydream backtracked and took a dif- 
ferent turning. Jennings. Gunnison. Pollard. 
President. Emperor. Empress. Juggler. 
Tower. Hanged man — (Hold on! - Don’t go 
any further.) s 

As the long dull day wore on, the daydreams 
gradually assumed a uniform coloration. 

Gun. Knife. Sliver. Broken glass. Nail. 
Tetanus. 

War., Mangled bodies. Mayhem. Murder. 
Rope. Hangman. (Sheer off again!) Gas, 
Poison. 

The coloration of blood and physical injury. 

And ever more strongly, he felt the breath- 
like pulsations of the monster in the depths 
of his mind, dreaming nightmares of carnage 



from which it would soon awake and heave up 
out of the mud. And he powerless to stop it. 
It was as if a crusted-over swamp, swollen with 
underground water, were pushing up the seem- 
ingly healthy ground above by imperceptible 
degrees — nearing the point when it would burst 
through in one vast slimy eruption. 

Starting home, Norman fell in with Mr. Carr. 

“Good evening, Norman,” said the old gen- 
tleman, lifting his Panama hat to mop his fore- 
head, which merged into an extensive bald 
area. 

“Good evening, Linthicum,” said Norman. 
But his mind was occupied with speculating 
how, if a man let a thumbnail grow and then 
sharpened it carefully, he could cut the veins 
of his wrist and so bleed to death. 

Mr. Carr wiped the handkerchief around his 
beard. 

“I enjoyed the bridge thoroughly,” he said. 
“Perhaps the four of us could have a game 
when the ladies are away at the faculty wives’ 
meeting next Thursday? You and I could be 
partners, and use the Culbertson slam con- 
ventions.” His voice became wistful. “I’m 
tired of always having to play the Black- 
wood.” 

Norman nodded, but he was thinking of 
how men have learned to swallow their tongues, 
and when the occasion came, die of suffocation. 
He tried to check himself. These were specu- 
lations appropriate only to the concentration 
camp. Visions of death kept rising in his mind, 
replacing one another. He felt the pulsations 
deepen, become unendurably strong. Mr. Carr 
nodded pleasantly and turned off. He quick- 
ened his pace, as if the walls of the poisoned 
passageway were contracting on the legendary 
hero and, unless the end were soon reached, 
he would have to shove out against them 
wildly. 

From the corner of his eye he saw one of 
his students. She was staring at him p'uz- 
zledly. He brushed past her. 

He reached the boulevard. The lights were 
against him. He paused on the edge of the 
curb. A large red truck was rumbling to- 
ward the intersection at a fair rate of speed. 

And then he knew just what was going to 
happen, and that he would be unable to stop 
himself. 

He was going to wait until the truck was 
very close and then he was going to throw 
himself under the wheels. End of the pas- 
sageway. 



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That was the meaning of the fifth stick * 
figure, the tarot diagram that had departed 
from tradition. * 

Empress— Juggler — The truck was very 
close. Tower — The lights had started to 
change but the truck was riot going to stop. 
Hanged man — 

It was only ‘when he leaned forward, tensing 
his leg muscles, that the small flat voice spoke 
into his ear, a voice that was a monotone and 
yet diabolically humorous,^ the voice of his 
dreams: 

“Not for two weeks, at least. Not for two 
more weeks.” 

He regained his balance. The truck rushed 
by. He looked over his shoulder — first up, 
then around. No one but a small Negro boy 
and an elderly man, rather shabbily dressed, 
carrying a shopping bag. They were waiting 
to cross in the opposite direction. A shiver 
settled on his spine. 

Eyes shifting warily from side to side, he 
crossed the street, and proceeded home. He 
no longer thought of death, except to fear it. 
As soon as he was inside, he poured himself ~a 
more than generous drink. Oddly, Tansy had 
set out soda and ice. He mixed the highball 
and gulped it down. 

So he had been given two weeks? Two 
weeks in which to pick his life slowly apart, 
savor each stage of doom, before he should 
walk again the narrow corridor at the end of 
which a truck was always rumbling by. 

Anger surged in him at the idea. . ■ 

But perhaps that was what he was supposed 
to do— get angry. 

He mixed himself another drink, took a gulp, 
then looked at it doubtfully. 

Perhaps that was part of the plan, too. 

Tansy came in, carrying a bundle. Her 
face was smiling and a little flushed. With a 
sigh of relief she set down the bundle and 
pushed aside the dark bangs from here fore- 
head.: 

“Whew, what a sweltering day. I thought 
you’d be wanting a drink. Here, let me finish 
that one for*you.” 

When she put down the glass there was . 
only ice in it. “There, now we’re blood brothers 
or something. Mix yourself another.” * 

“That was my second,” he told her. 

“Oh, heck, I thought I was cheating you.”' 
She sat on the edge of the table and wagged 
a finger in his face. “Look, mister, you need 
a rest. Or some excitement. I’m not sure 



which. Maybe both. Now here’s my plan. 

I make us a cold supper — sandwiches. Then, 
when it’s dark and nobody can see us, we get 
Oscar out of the garage, and sinfully waste a 
half gram of rubber off his tires in driving to 
the Top of the Hill. We haven’t done that for 
years. How about it, mister?” 

He hesitated. Helped by the drink, his 
thoughts were veering. This was a crazy situa- 
tion. Half his mind was still gripped by a sick- 
ening, panicky apprehension for his immediate 
personal future. The other half was coming 
under the spell of Tansy’s gaiety. 

She reached out and pinched his nose. “How 
about it?” 

“All right,” he said. 

“Hey, you’re supposed to act interested!” 
She slid - off the table, started for the kitchen, 
then added darkly over her shoulder, “But 
that will come later.” 

She looked provocatively pretty, in her mock 
anger: He couldn’t see any difference between 
how and fifteen years ago. He felt’ he was 
seeing her for the hundredth first time. 

When the sandwiches came, he was reading 
the evening paper. The disquieting half-and- 
half mood persisted.' He had found a local- 
interest item at the bottom of the fifth page. 

STUDENT PRANKSTERS AT 
WORK AGAIN 

j . . - 

A practical joke is worth any amount of trouble and 
physical exertion. At least, that is the sentiment of 
a group of Hempnell College students, as yet uniden- 
tified. But we are wondering about the sentiments of 
Professor Norman Saylor, when he looked out the win- 
dow this morning and saw a stone gargoyle weighing 
a good three hundred pounds sitting in the middle of 
his lawn. It had been removed from the roof of one 
of the college buildings. How the students managed 
to detach it, lower it from the roof, and transport it 
to Professor Saylor's residences is still a mystery. 

Said Professor Saylor, "Thanks for the lawn orna- 
ment, boys, but I really don’t want it.” 

When President Randolph Pollard was asked if the^ 
pranksters diad been identified, he laughingly replied, 

"I guess our War Program of physical education for 
men must be providing them with reserves of excess 
strength and energy.” 

When we spoke to President Pollard he was leaving 
to address the Lions’ Club on "The College in War- 
time.” (For details of his address, see page I.) 

Just what you nnght expect. The usual 
repertorial inaccuracies. It wasn’t a gargoyle; 
gargoyles are ornamental rainspouts. And the 
reporter had not used the lightning angle in 
his story. Probably thought it would sound 
too fishy. 



UNKNOWN WORLDS 38 



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Finally, the familiar touch of turning the 
item into an advertisement for the physical- 
education department. You had to admit that 
the Hempnell publicity office had a kind of 
efficiency. 

Tansy swept the paper out of his hands. 

“The world can wait,” she said. “Here, have 
a bite of my sandwich.” 

vnx. . : 

It was quite dark when they started for the 
Hill. He drove carefully, taking his time at 
intersections. Tansy’s gaiety still did no more 
than hoid in check the other half of his 
thoughts. 

“I might be a witch,” she said, “taking you 
to a hilltop rendezvous. Our own private 
Sabbat.” 

She was smiling impishly. She had changed 
to a light white sports dress. She looked like 
one of his students. 

Again he felt the craziness of the situation. 
The line between reality and pretense was be- 
come harder to distinguish. He must keep 
carefully in mind that when she said things 
like that, she was making a courageous mockery 
of her previous behavior. He must on no ac- 
count let her see the other half of his thoughts. 
Or was that what she wanted? 

The lights of the town dropped behind. 
Half a mile out, he turned of! sharply onto the 
road that wound up the hill. It was bumpier 
than he remembered from the last time— was 
it as much as ten years ago? And the trees 
were thicker, brushing the windshield. 

When they emerged into the half acre of 
clearing on the top, the moon, two days after 
full, was rising redly. 

Tansy pointed to it and said, “Check! X 
timed it perfectly. But where are the others? 
There always used to be two or three cars up 
here. And on a night like this!” 

He stopped the car close to the edge. “Fash- 
ions in lovers’ lanes change like anything else,” 
he told her. “We’re traveling a disused folk- 
way.” 

“Always the sociologist!” 

“I guess so. Maybe Mrs. Carr found out 
about this place. And X suppose the students 
range farther afield nowadays, or did until 
this year.” 

She rested her head on his shoulder. He 
switched off the headlights, and the moon cast 
soft shadows. 

“We used to do this at Gorham,” she mur- 



mured. “’When X was taking your classes, 
and you were the serious young instructor. 
Until X found out you weren’t any different - 
from the college boys — only better. Remem- 
ber?” 

He nodded and took her hand. He looked 
down at the town, made out the campus, with 
its prominent floodlights designed to chase 
couples out of dark corners. Those garishly 
floodlighted Gothic buildings seemed for the 
moment to symbolize a whole world of barren 
intellectual competition and jealous traditional- 
ism, a world toward which at the moment he 
felt as alien as if he were still twenty-six in- 
stead of forty-one and Tansy twenty-one in- - 
stead of thirty-six. 

“X wonder if that’s why they hate us so?” 
he said, almost without thinking. 

“Whatever are you talking about?” But 
the question sounded lazy. 

“X mean the rest of the faculty, or most of 
them. Is it because we can do things like 
this?” - 

She laughed. “So you’re actually coming 
alive. We don’t do things like this so very 
often, you know.” 

He kept on with his idea. “It’s a devilishly 
competitive and jealous life. The war, doing 
away with some of it, makes you more con- 
scious of the rest. And competition in an in- 
stitution can be nastier than any other, be- 
cause it’s so tight. Think so?” 

“I’ve lived with it for years,” said Tansy, 
simply. 

“OL course, it’s all very petty. But petty 
emotions can come to outweigh big ones. 
Their size is better suited to the human mind.” 

He looked down at Hempnell, and tried to 
visualize the amount of ill will and jealousy 
he had inevitably accumulated for himself. 

He felt a slight chill creeping around. He 
realized where this train of thought was lead- 
ing. The darker half of his mind loomed up 
ominously. 

“Here, philosopher,” said Tansy, “have a 
slug.” 

She was offering him a small silver flask. 

He recognized it. “X never dreamed you’d 
kept it all these years.” 

“XJh-huh. Remember when I first offered 
you a drink from it? You were a trifle shocked, 

X believe. Though you carried a flask, too.” 

“I took the drink.” 

“Uh-huh. So take this one.” 

It tasted like fire and spice. There were 
memories with it, memories of those crazy 



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prohibition years, and of Gorham and New 
England. 

“Brandy?” 

“Greek style. Give me some.” . 

Before that flood of memories, the darker 
half of his mind receded, was washed under. 
He looked at Tansy’s sleek hair and moon- 
shadowed eyes. Of course, she’s a witch, he 
thought lightly. She’s Lilith. Ishtar. He’d 
tell her so. 

“Do you remember the time,” he said, “we 
slid down the bank to get away from the night 
watchman at Gorham? There would have been 
a magnificent scandal if he’d caught us.” 

“Oh, yes, and the time — ” 

When they went down, the moon was an 
hour higher. He drove slowly. No need to 
imitate the .sillier practices of the prohibition 
era. A truck chugged past him. “Two more 
weeks.” Rot! Who’d he think he was, hear- 
ing voices? Joan of Arc? 

He felt hilarious. He wanted to tell Tansy 
all the ridiculous things he’d been imagining 
the last few days, so she could laugh at them, 
too. It would make a swell ghost story. There 
was a reason he shouldn’t tell her, but it was 
an insignificant reason — part and parcel of this 
cramped, warped, overcautious Hempnell life 
they ought to break away from more often. 

So^when they arrived in the living room, 
Tansy flopping down on the sofa, he began, 
“You know. Tansy, about this witch stuff. I 
want to tell you — ” 

He was caught completely off guard by what- 
ever force — subjective or objective — hit him. 
When it was over, he was sitting in the easy- 
chair, completely sober, with the outer world 
once more an icy pressure on his senses, and 
the inner world a whirling sphere of alien 
thought, and the future a dark corridor two 
weeks long. 

It was as if a very large, horny hand had 
been clapped roughly over his mouth, and as if 
another such hand had grasped him by the 
shoulder, shook him, and slammed him down 
in the leather chair. 

As if? 

He looked around uneasily. 

Maybe there had been hands. 

Apparently Tansy had not noticed anything. 
Her face was a white oval in the gloom. She 
was still humming a snatch of song. She did 
not ask what he had started to say. 

He got up, walked unsteadily into the dining 
room, and poured himself a drink from the 



sideboard. On the way he switched on the 
lights. 

So he couldn’t tell Tansy or anyone else 
about it, even if he wanted to? That was why 
you never heard from real witchcraft victims. 
And why they never seemed able to escape, 
even if the means of escape were at hand. It 
wasn’t weak will. They were watched . Like 
a gangster taken on a ride from an expensive 
night club. He must excuse himself from the 
loud-mouthed crowd at his table and laugh 
heartily, and stop to chat with friends and 
throw a wink at the pretty girls because right 
behind him are those white-scarfed, top-hatted 
trigger boys, hands in the pockets of their vel- 
vety dress overcoats. No use dying now. Bet- 
' ter play along. There might be a chance. 

But that was storybook stuff, movie stuff. 

He nodded at himself in the glass above the 
sideboard. 

“Meet Professor Saylor,” he said. “The dis- 
tinguished ethnologist and firm believer in real 
witchcraft — 

But the face in the glass did not look so 
much disgusted as frightened. 

He mixed himself another drink, and one 
for Tansy, and took them into the living room. 

“Here’s to wickedness,” said Tansy. “Do 
you realize you haven’t been anywhere near 
drunk since Christmas?” 

He grinned. That was just what the movie 
gangster would do, to grab a moment of for- 
getfulness when the Big Boy had put him on 
the spot. And not a bad idea. 

Slowly, and at first only in a melancholy 
minor key, the mood of the Hill returned. They 
talked, played old records, told jokes that were 
old enough to be new again. Tansy hammered 
the piano, and they sang a crazy assortment 
of songs — folk songs, hymns, national anthems, 
revolution songs, blues, Brahms, Schubert — 
haltingly at first, later at the top of their 
voices. 

They remembered. 

And they kept on drinking. 

But always, like a shimmering sphere of 
crystal, the alien thoughts spun in his mind. 
The drink made it possible for him to regard 
them dispassionately, without constant revul- 
sions in the name of common sense. He began 
to see world-wide evidence for the operation 
of witchcraft. 

For instance, was it not likely that all self- 
destructive impulses were the result of witch- 
craft, more or less efficiently screened off by 
protective magic, or not screened off at all? 



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Those universal impulses that were a direct 
contradiction to the laws of self-preservation 
and survival. Poe had fancifully referred them 
to an “Imp of the Perverse,” and psychoana- 
lysts had laboriously Hypothesized a “death 
instinct” to account for them. How much 
simpler to attribute them to malign forces out- 
side the individual, working- by means as yet 
unanaly^ed and therefore classified as super- 
natural. 

His experiences during the past days could 
be divided into two distinct categories. The 
first included those natural misfortunes and 
antagonisms from which Tansy’s magic had 
screened him. The attack on his life by Theo- 
dore ■ Jennings should probably be placed in 
this category. The chances were that Jen- 
nings was actually psychopathic. He would 
have made his murderous attack at an earlier 
date, had not Tansy’s protective magic kept it 
from getting started. As soon as the screen 
was down, as soon as Norman burned the 
last hand, the idea had suddenly burgeoned 
in Jennings’ mind like a hothouse flower. Jen- 
nings had himself admitted it! “I didn’t real- 
ize until this minute — ” 

Margaret van Nice’s accusation, Thompson’s 
sudden burst of interest in his extracurricular 
activities, and Sawtelle’s chance discovery of 
the Cunningham thesis also probably belonged 
in the same category. 

In the second category — active and malign 
witchcraft. 

“A penny for your thoughts,” offered Tansy, 
looking over the rim of her glass. 

“I was thinking of the party last Christ- 
mas,” he replied smoothly, “and of how Welby 
crawled around playing a St. Bernard, with 
the bearskin rug over his shoulders and the 
bottle of whiskey slung under his neck.” He 
felt a childish pride in his cunning at having 
avoided being trapped into an admission. He 
simultaneously thought of Tansy as a genu- 
ine witch and as a potentially neurotic in- 
dividual who had to be protected at all costs 
from dangerous suggestions. The liquor made 
his. mind work by parts, and the parts had 
no check on each other. 

His consciousness began to black out for 
indeterminate intervals. Things began to hap- 
pen by fits and starts. 

They were wailing “St. James’ Infirmary.” 

He was thinking: “Why shouldn’t the women 
be the witches? They’re the intuitionalists, 
the traditionalists, the irrationalists. And like 



Tansy, most of them are never quite sure 
whether or not their witchcraft really works.” 
They had shoved back the carpet and were 
dancing to “Chloe.” Sometime- or other she 
had changed to her rose dressing gown. 

He was thinking: “In the second category, 
put the Estrey dragon. Animated by a human 
or nonhuman soul conjured into it by Mrs. 
Gunnison and controlled through photographs. 
Inhibited by the Protective Screen so long as 
the Protective Screen existed.” 

They had put on a record of Ravel’s “Bo- 
lero,” and he was beating out the rhythm with 
his fist. 

He was thinking: “All sculpture has a magi- 
cal significance, from the Aurignacian Venus 
to Epstein’s ‘Genesis.’ The underlying inten- 
tion has always been to produce a manikin 
capable of being animated by sorcery.” 

He was watching Tansy as she sang “St. 
Louis Blues” in a hoarsely throbbing voice. It 
was true, just as Welby had always maintained, 
that she had a genuine theatrical flair. Make 
a good chanteuse. 

He was thinking: “Tansy stopped the Estrey 
dragon with the knots. But she’ll have a hard 
time doing anything like that again, because 
Mrs. Gunnison has her book of formulas and 
can figure out ways to circumvent.” 

They were sharing a highball that would 
have burned his throat if his throat had not 
been numb, and he seemed to be getting most 
of it. 

He was thinking: “The tarot stick figure of 
the man and the truck is the key to a group of 
related sorceries. Cards began as instruments 
of magic, like sculpture. These sorceries aim 
at finishing me off. The bull-roarer acts as an 
amplifier or reinforcement. The thing stand- 
ing behind me, with the flat voice and heavy 
hands, is a guardian, to see to it that I do not 
deviate from the path appointed. Bull-roaring 
and flat voice were associated in my dream. 
Narrow corridor. Two weeks more.” 

The strange thing was that these thoughts 
were not altogether unpleasant. They had a 
wild, black7 poisonous beauty of their own,' 
a lovely, deadly shimmer. They possessed the 
fascination of-The impossible, the incredible. 
They hinted at unimaginable vistas. Even 
while they terrorized, they did not lose that 
chillingly poignant beauty. They were like 
the visions conjured up by some forbidden 
drug. They had the lure of an unknown sin 
and an ultimate blasphemy. He could under- 
stand the force that compelled the practitioners 



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of black magic to take any risk. 

His drunkenness made him feel safe. It had 
broken his mind down into its ultimate par- 
ticles, and those particles were incapable of 
fear because they could not be injured. Just 
as the iron molecules of a battleship are quite 
safe from the bomb which blows the battle-" 
ship apart. 

But now the particles were whirling crazily. 
Consciousness was wavering. 

They were in each other’s arms. 

Tansy was asking eagerly, coaxingly, “All 
that’s mine is yours? All that’s yours is mine?” 

The question awakened . a suspicion in his 
mind, but he could not grasp it clearly. Some- 
thing made him think that the words held a 
trap. But what trap? His thoughts stumbled 
and reeled, 

She was saying— it sounded like the Bible — 
“and I have drunk from your cup and eaten 
from your table — r” 

Her face was a blurred oval, her eyes like 
misty jewels. 

“Everything you have is .mine? You give 
it to me without hindrance and of your own 
free choice?” 

Somewhere a trap. 

But the voice was irresistibly coaxing, like 
tickling fingers. 

“All you have is mine? Just say it once. 
Norm, just once. For me.” 

Of course he loved her. Better than any- 
thing else in. the world. * 

“Yes . . . yes . . . everything — ” he heard 
himself saying. 

And then his mind toppled and plunged down 
into a fathomless ocean of darkness, and silence, 
and peace. 

IX 

Sunlight made a bright, creamy design on 
the drawn blind. Filtered sunlight filled the 
bedroom, like a coolly glowing liquid. The 
birds were chirruping importantly. He closed 
his eyes again and stretched luxuriously. 

Let’s see, it was about time he got started 
on that article for the Journal. N And there 
was still some work to do on the revision of 
his “Textbook of Ethnology.” Lots of time, 
but better get it out of the way. No telling 
when the government would want another bro- 
chure. And he ought to have a serious talk 
with Bronstein about his thesis. That boy 
had some good ideas, but he needed a balance 
wheel. And then his address to the Off-campus 



Mothers. Might as well tell them something 
useful — 

Eyes still closed, he enjoyed to the full 
that most pleasant of sensations — the irresisti- 
ble tug of work a man likes to do and is able 
to do well. 

No need to get started right away, though. 
Today was too good a day for golf to miss. 
Might see what Gunnison was doing. And 
then he and Tansy had not made an expedi- 
tion into the country this whole spring. He’d 
talk to her about it at breakfast. Saturday 
breakfast was an event. She must be getting 
it ready now. He felt as if a shower would 
make him very hungry. Must be late. 

He opened an eye and focused the bedroom 
clock. Twelve thirty-five? Say, just when had 
he got to bed last night? What had he been 
doing? 

Memory of the past few days uncoiled like a 
loosed spring, so swiftly that it started his 
heart pounding and brought him up with a 
jerk. Yet there was a difference. From the 
very first moment it all seemed incredible 
and unreal. He had the sensation of reading 
the very detailed case history of another per- 
son. His memories could not be made to fit 
with his present sense of well-being. What 
was stranger, they did not seriously disturb 
that sense of well-being. 

He searched his mind diligently for traces of 
supernatural fear, of the sense of being watched 
and guarded, of that monstrous self-destructive 
impulse. He could not discover or even sug- 
gest to himself the slightest degree of such 
emotions. Whatever they had been, they were 
now part of the past, beyond the reach of 
everything except intellectual memory. 
“Spheres of alien thought!” Why, the very 
notion was bizarre. And yet somehow it had 
all happened. Something had happened. 

His movement had automatically taken him 
under the shower. And now, as he soaped him- 
self and the warm water cascaded down, he 
wondered if he ought not to talk it all over 
with Jones of psychology or a good practicing, 
psychiatrist. The mental contortions he’d gone 
through in the last few days would provide 
material for a whole treatise! Feeling as sound 
as he did this morning, it was impossible for 
him to entertain any ideas of serious mental 
derangement. No, what had happened was 
just one of those queer, inexplicable spasms 
of irrationality that can seize the sanest people, 
perhaps because they are so sane— a kind of 
discharge of long-inhibited morbidity. Too 



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bad, though, that he had bothered Tansy with 
it. Especially when her own nervous system 
had been in a shaky state. Poor kid, she had 
been working hard to cheer him up, last night 
in particular. It ought to have been the other 
way around. Well, he would make it up 
to her. — 

He shaved leisurely and with enjoyment. 
The razor behaved perfectly. 

As he finished dressing, a doubt struck him. 
Again he. searched his mind, closing, his eyes 
like a man ’listening for an almost inaudible 
sound. 

Nothing. Not the faintest trace. 

He was . whistling as he pushed into the 
kitchen. 

There was no sign of breakfast. Beside the 
sink were .some unwashed glasses, empty bot- 
tles, and an ice tray filled with tepid water. 

“Tansy,” he called. “Tansy!” 

He walked through the house, with the 
vague apprehension that she might have passed 
out before getting to bed. They’d been drink- 
ing like fish. He went out to the garage and 
made sure that the car was still there. Maybe 
she’d walked to the grocer’s to get something 
for breakfast. Unconsciously he began to 
hurry as he went back into the house. 

This time when he looked in the study, he 
noticed the upset ink bottle, and the scrap of 
paper just beside it on the edge of the drying 
black pool. The message had come within 
an inch of being engulfed. 

It was a, hurried scrawl — twice the pen point 
had gouged through the paper — and it broke 
off twice in the middle of a sentence, but it 
was undeniably in Tansy’s handwriting. 

For a moment it isn’t watching me. 1 didn’t real- 
ize it would be too strong for me. Not two weeks not 
— two days! Don’t try 'to follow me. Only .chance is 
to do exactly what I tell you. Take .four 'lengths of 
four-inch .white cord and — 

His eyes traced the smear going out from 
the black pool and ending in the indistinct 
print of a hand, and involuntarily his imagina- 
tion recreated .the scene. She had been scrib- 
bling desperately, stealing quick glances over 
her shoulder. Then it had awakened to what 
she was doing and .had roughly struck the pen 
out of her ;hand, and shaken her. He recalled 
the grip of those huge horny hands, and winced. 
And then . . . then she had gotten together 
her things, very quietly although there was 
little chance of him awakening, and she had 




48 UNKNOWN -WORLDS 



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walked out of the house and down the street. 
And if she met anyone she knew, she had 
talked, to them gayly, and laughed, because it 
was behind her, waiting for any false move, 
any attempt at escape. 

So she had gone. 

Where? Anywhere. Wherever the narrow 
corridor ended for her , no longer two weeks 
but only two days long. 

In a flash of insight he understood why . If 
he hadn’t been drunk last night, he would 
have guessed. 

One of the oldest and best-established types 
of conjuration in^the world. Transference of 
evils. Like the medicine man who conjures 
sickness into a stone, or into an enemy, or 
into himself — because he is better able to 
combat it — she had taken his curse upon her- 
self. Shared his drink last night, shared his 
food. Used a thousand devices to bring them 
close together. It was all so obvious! He 
racked his brain to recover those last words 
she had said to him. “Everything you have 
is mine? All you have is mine ?” 

She had meant the curse. 

And he had said, “Yes.” 

And then, without her formulas and her 
Protective Screen, the curse had proved too 
strong for her. 

He wanted to run out into the street, to shout 
her name. 

But the pool of ink had dried to glistening 
black flakes all around the margin. It must 
have been spilled hours ago — as early as last 
midnight even. 

He beat his temple in a rage at his own im- 
potence. 

This mood did not last long. His anxiety 
persisted, grew stronger. But the supernatural 
terror rapidly died away. It could not sustain 
itself now that he no longer experienced it di- 
rectly. Even the argument that he had lost 
his sensitivity only because the curse was now 
directed at her, did not convince him for a 
moment. No, there was nothing supernatural 
in this — no guardian except a figment of his 
and her neurotic nerves. What had happened 
was that he had suggested all this to her. He 
had forced upon her the products of his own 
morbid imagination. Undoubtedly he had 
babbled everything to her while he was drunk. 
And it had worked on her suggestible nature 
— she already believed in witchcraft — until she 
had got the idea of transferring his curse to 
herself, and had convinced herself that the 

v 



transference had actually occurred. And then 
gone off, God knew where! 

And that was bad enough. 

There was a light chime from the front door. 
He extracted a letter from the mailbox, ripped 
it open. It was addressed with a soft pencil, 
and the graphite had smeared. But he knew 
the handwriting, . ■ 

The message was so jerky and uneven that 
he was some time reading it. It began and 
ended in the middle of a sentence. 

< 

* 

— and a length of gut, a bit of platinum or iridium, 
a piece of lodes tone, a phonograph needle that has 
only played Scriabin’s “Ninth Sonata.” Then tie — 

That was all. A continuation of the first 
message, with its bizarre formula. Had she 
really convinced herself that there was a 
guardian watching her, and that she could 
only communicate during the infrequent mo- 
ments when its attention was elsewhere? He 
knew the answer. When you had an obsession 
you could convince yourself of anything. 

He looked at the postmark. He recognized 
the name of a town several miles east of Hemp- 
nell. -He could not think of a soul they knew 
there, or anything else about the town. His 
first impulse was to get out the car and rush 
over. But what could he do when he got 
there? 

The phone was ringing. It was Evelyn Saw- 
telle. 

“Is that you, Norman? Please ask Tansy 
to come to the phone. I wish to speak to her.” 

The question was rapped out with precision, 
as if its wording had been carefully planned. 

“I’m sorry, but she isn’t in.” 

Evelyn Sawtelle did not sound surprised at 
the answer — her second question came too 
quickly. “Where is she then? I must get in 
touch with her.” 

He thought. “She’s out in the country,” he 
said, “visiting some friends of ours. Is there 
something I can tell her?” 

“No, I wish to speak to Tansy. What is 
your friend’s number?” 

“They don’t have a phone!” he said angrily. 

“No? Well, it’s nothing of importance.” 
She sounded oddly pleased, as if his anger had 
given her satisf action. “I’ll call again. I must 
hurry now. Hervey is so busy with his new 
responsibilities. Good-by.” 

He replaced the phone. Now, why the 
devil — Suddenly an explanation occurred to 



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him. Perhaps Tansy had been seen leaving 
town, and Evelyn Sawtelle had scented the 
possibility of some sort of scandal and had 
wanted to check. Perhaps Tansy had been 
carrying a suitcase. 

He looked in Tansy’s dressing room. The 
small suitcase was gone. Drawers were open. 
It looked as if she had packed in a hurry. 
But what about money? He examined his 
billfold. It was empty. Forty-odd dollars 
missing; 

You could go a long way on forty dollars. 
The jerky illegibility of the message made it 
look as if it had been written on a train or 
bus. 

The next few hours were highly unpleasant. 
He checked schedules, and found that several 
busses and trains passed through the town 
from which Tansy’s letter had been sent. He 
drove to the stations and made guarded in- 
quiries, with no success. 

He wanted to do all the things you should 
do when someone disappears, but he held back. 
What could he say? “My wife, sir, has dis- 
appeared. She is suffering from the delusion 
that — ” And what if she should be found and 
questioned in her present state of mind, ex- 
amined by a doctor, before he could get to 
her? 

No, this was something for him to handle 
alone. But if he did not get a line on it soon, 
he would have no choice. He would have to 
go to the police, inventing some story to cover 
the facts. 

She had written, “Two days.” If she be- 
lieved that she were doomed to die in two 
days, might not the belief be enough? That 
was his worst fear. 

Toward evening he drove back to the house, 
repressing the chimerical hope that she had 
returned in his absence. The special delivery 
carrier was just getting into his car. Norman 
pulled up alongside. 

“Anything for Saylor?” 

“Yes, sir. It’s in the box;” 

The message was longer this time, but just 
as difficult to read. 

At last its attention is somewhere else. If I control 
my emotions, it isn't so quick to notice my thoughts. 
But it was hard for me to post the last letter. Nor- 
man, you must do what I tell you. The two days end 
Sunday midnight. Then the Bay. You must follow 
all directions. Tie the four white cords into a granny, 
a reef, a cat’s-paw, and a carrick bend. Tie the gut in 
a bowline. Then add — 



He looked at the post mark. The place was 
two hundred miles east. Not on the railroad 
lines, as far as he could recall. That should 
narrow down the possibilities considerably. 

One word from the letter was repeating it- 
self in his mind, like a musical note struck again 
and again until it becomes unendurable. 

Bay. Bay. Bay. Bay. 

The memory came of a hot afternoon fifteen 
years ago. It was just before they were mar- 
ried. They were sitting on the edge of a ram- 
shackle little pier. He remembered the salt 
smell, and the faintly fishy, dry- wood smell of 
the splintery old planks. 

“Funny,” she had said, looking down into 
the green water, “but I always used to think 
that I’d end up down there. Not that I’m 
afraid of it. I’ve always swum way out. But 
even when I was a little girl I’d look at the 
Bay — maybe green, maybe blue, maybe gray, 
covered with whitecaps, glittering with moon- 
beams, or shrouded by fog — and I’d think, 
‘Tansy, the Bay is going to get you, but not 
for years and years/ Funny, isn’t it?” 

And he laughed and put his arms around 
her tight, and the green water had gone on 
lapping at the piles heavy with seaweed. 

He had been visiting with her family, when 
her parents were still alive, at their home near 
Bayport on the southern shore of New York 

Bay. t 

The narrow corridor suited itself to its vic- 
tim’s most cherished fear. It ended for her in 
the Bay, tomorrow midnight. 

She must be heading for the Bay. 

He made several calls : — first bus lines, then 
railroad and air. It was impossible to get a 
reservation on the air lines, but tonight’s train 
would get him into Jersey City an hour ahead 
of the bus she must be traveling, according 
to the deductions he made from the place and 
time of the postmarks. 

He had ample time to pack a few things, cash 
a check on his way to the station — 

He spread her three notes on the table — 
the one in pen, the two in pencil. He reread 
the crazy incomplete formula. He shook his 
head. 

He frowned. Would a scientist neglect -the 
millionth-and-one possibility? Would the 
commander of a trapped army disdain a strata- 
gem just because it was not in the books? This 
stuff looked like gibberish. Yesterday it might 
have meant something to him emotionally. 
Today it was just nonsense. But tomorrow 



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night it might conceivably represent a fantastic 
last chance. -- 

“Norman, you must do what I tell you.” 
The scrawled words stared at him. 

He went out in the kitchen and got a ball 
of white twine. ' 

He rummaged in the closet for his squash 
racket and cut out the two center strings. 
That ought to do for gut. , 

The fireplace had not been cleaned since 
the stuff from Tansy’s dressing table had been 
burned. He poked around the edges until he 
found a piece of lodestone. 

He located the recording of Scriabin’s “Ninth 
Sonata” and started the phonograph, putting 
in a new needle. He glanced at his wrist watch 
and paced the room restlessly. Gradually the 
music took hold of him. It was not pleasant 
music. There was something tantalizing and 
exasperating about it, with its droning melody 
and rocking figures in the base and shakes in 
the treble and elaborate ornamentation that 
writhed up and down the piano keyboard. It 
rasped the nerves. 1 

He began to remember things he had heard 
about it. Hadn’t Tansy once told him that 
Scriabin called his “Ninth Sonata” a “Black 
; Mass” and had developed an antipathy to play- 
ing it? Scriabin, who had conceived a color 
organ and tried to translate mysticism into 
music, and. had died of a peculiar lip infection. 
An innocent-faced Russian with a huge curl- 
ing mustache. Critical phrases Tansy had re- 
peated to him floated through his mind. “The 
poisonous ‘Ninth Sonata’ — the most perfidi- 
ous piece of music ever conceived — ” Ridicu- 
lous! How could music be anything but an 
abstract pattern of tones? 

And yet— while listening to the thing — 
one could think differently. 

Faster and faster it went. The lovely second 
theme became infected, was distorted^ into 
something raucous and discordant — a 'march 
of the damned — a dance of the damned — 
breaking off suddenly when it had reached an 
unendurable pitch. Then a repetition of the 
droning first theme, ending on a soft yet grating 
note low in the keyboard. 

He removed the needle, sealed it in an en- 
velope, and packed it along with the rest of 
his stuff. 

On an afterthought, he tore out of the big 
dictionary a page carrying an illustrated list 
of knots. 

The telephone stopped him as he was going 
out. 



UNKNOWN WORLDS 



“Oh, Professor Saylor, would you mind call- 
ing Tansy to the phone?” Mrs. Carr’s voice 
was very amicable. 

He repeated what he had told Mrs. Sawtelle. 
“I’m glad she’s having a rest in the coun- 
try,” said Mrs. Carr. “You know, Professor 
Saylor, I don’t think that Tansy’s been looking 
so well lately. I’ve been a little worried. You’re 
sure she’s all right?” 

“How do you mean?” 

It was then the other voice broke in. r 
“What’s the idea of checking up on me? 
Do you think I’m a child? I know what I’m 
doing!” ‘ 

“Be quiet!” said Mrs. Carr. Then, in her 
sweet voice. “I think someone must have cut 
in on us. Good-by, Professor Saylor.” 

The line went dead. 

He picked up his suitcase and walked out. 

x. 

The bus driver they pointed out to him had 
thick shoulders and sleepy, competent-looking 
eyes. He was standing by the wall, smoking 
a cigarette. 

“Sure, she must have been in my bus,” he 
told Norman after thinking a moment, “A 
pretty woman, on the -small side, in a gray 
dress, with a queer-looking silver brooch like 
you mentioned. One suitcase. Light pigskin. 
I figured her out as going to see someone who 
was very sick, or had been in an accident, 
maybe.” ' 

Norman curbed his impatience. If it had 
not been for the hour-and-a-half delay outside 
Jersey City, he would have been here well 
ahead of the bus, instead of twenty minutes 
late. 

He said, “I want, if possible, to get a line on 
where she went after she left your bus. The 
man at the desk can’t help me.” 

The driver looked at Norman. But he did 
not say, “Whatcha wanta know for?” — for 
which Norman was grateful. He seemed to 
decide that Norman was O. K. 

He said, “I can’t be sure, mister, but there 
was a local bus going down the shore. I think 
she got on that.” 

“Would it stop at Bayport?” 

The driver nodded., 

“How long since it left?” 

“About twenty minutes.” 

“Could I get to Bayport ahead of it? If I 
took a cab?” 

“Just about. If you wanted to pay the bill 



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there and back — and maybe a little extra for 
the rubber he’d bum — I think Alec could take 
you.” He waved in casual recognition at a 
man sitting in a cab just beyond the station. 
“Mind you, mister, I can’t say for certain 
she got on the shore bus.” 

“That’s all right. ____ Thanks a lot.” 

In the glow of the street lamp Alec’s foxy 
eyes were more openly curious than the bus 
driver’s, but he did not make any comments. 

“I can do it,” he said cheerfully, “but we 
haven’t any time to waste. Jump in.” 

The shore highway led through lonely 
stretches of marsh and wasteland. Occasionally 
Norman caught the sibilant rustle of the 
leagues of tall stiff seagrass, and a brakish 
tang from the dark inlets crossed by long low 
bridges. The odor of the Bay. 

Indistinctly he made out factories and scat- 
tered houses. 

“There's a dimout some places,” Alec vol- 
unteered once. He was paying close atten- 
tion to the road. 

They passed three or four busses without 
Alec making any comment. 

After a long while Aleck said, “That should 
be her.” 

A constellation of red and green taillights 
was vanishing over the rise ahead. 

“About three miles to Bayport,” he con- 
tinued. “What should I do?” 

“Just get to Bayport a little ahead of her, 
and stop at the bus station.” 

“0. K.” 

They overtook the bus and swung around it. 
The windows were too high for Norman to 
see any of the occupants. Besides, the interior 
lights were out. 

As they drew ahead, Alec nodded confirm- 
ingly. “That’s her all right.” 

- The bus station at Bayport was also the 
railway depot. Vaguely Norman remembered 
the loosely planked platform and packed cin- 
ders on the track side. The station building 
was dark, but there were several cars and a 
lone local cab drawn up, and there were some 
men standing around talking in low voices, 
and a couple of soldiers going back to camp. 

He had time to scent the salt air, with its 
faint and not unpleasant trace of fishiness. 
Then the bus pulled in. 

Several passengers stepped down, looking 
around to spot the people waiting for thega. 

Tansy was the third. She was staring 



straight ahead. She was carrying the pigskin 
suitcase. 

“Tansy!” he said. 

She did not look at him. He noted a black 
stain on her right hand, and remembered the 
spilled ink on his study table. Odd that it 
should still be there. 

“Tansy!” he said. “Tansy!” 

She walked straight past him, so close that 
her sleeve brushed his. 

“Tansy, what’s the matter with you?” 

He had turned and hurried after her. She 
was heading for the local cab. He was con- 
scious of a silence, and curious unfriendly 
glances. It made him angry. 

She did not slacken her pace. He grabbed 
her elbow and pulled her around. He 'heard 
a remonstratory murmur behind him, and real- 
ized that a couple of the men were closing 
ip. 

“Tansy, stop acting this way! Tansy!” 

Her face looked frozen. She stared past him 
without a hint of recognition in her eyes. 

That infuriated him. He did not pause to 
think. Accumulated tensions prodded him 
into an. explosion. He grabbed both elbows 
and shook her. She still looked past him, com- 
pletely aloof — a perfect picture of an aristo- 
cratic woman enduring brutality. If she had 
yelled and fought him, the men might not have 
interfered. 

He was jerked back. 

“Lay off her!” 

“Who do you think you are, anyway?” 

She stood there, with maddening composure. 
He noticed a scrap of paper flutter put of her 
hand. Then her eyes met his and for one ter- 
rible moment — but one moment only — he saw 
rise up behind her a shaggy black form twice 
her height, with hulking shoulders, out- 
stretched massive hands, and dully glowing 
eyes. 

Only a moment, though. Then she turned 
away. But he fancied that a great shadow fol- 
lowed hers. Then they swung him around and 
he could no longer see her. 

In a queer sort of daze — for the kind of fear 
he had just experienced mixes badly with any 
other emotion — he listened to them jabber at 
him. 

“I ought to take a crack at you,” he finally 
heard someone say. 

“All right,” he replied in a flat voice. 
“They’re holding my hands.” 

He heard Alec’s voice. “Say, what’s going 



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on here? 55 Alec sounded cautious, but not un- 
friendly, as if he were thinking, “The guy’s my 
fare, but I don’t know anything about him/’ 
Gne of the soldiers spoke. “Where’s the 
lady? She doesn’t seem to be making any 
complaint.” 

“Yeah, where is she?” 

“She got in Jake’s cab and drove off,” some- 
one volunteered. 

“Maybe he had a good reason for what he 
did,” said the soldier. 

Norman felt the attitude of the crowd 
change. . 

One of the men holding him retorted, “No- 
body’s got a right to treat a lady that way.” 
But the other one slackened his grip and asked 
Norman, “How about it? Did you have a 
reason for doing that?” 

“I did. But it’s my business.” 

He heard a woman’s voice, high-pitched. 
“A lot of fuss over nothing!” 

Grumbling, the men let him go. 

“But mind you,” said the more belligerent 
one, “if she’d stuck around and complained, 
I’d ’ve sure, taken a crack at you.” 

“All right,” said Norman, “in that case you 
would have.” His eyes were searching for a 
scrap of paper. 

“Can anyone tell me the address she gave 
the cab driver?” he asked at random. 

One or two shook their heads. The others 
ignored the question. Their feelings toward 
him had not changed enough to make them 
co-operative. And very likely, in the excite- 
ment, no one had heard. 

Silently the little crowd drifted apart. Peo- 
ple waited until they got out of earshot before 
beginning to argue about what had happened. 
Most of the cars drove off. The two soldiers 
.wandered over to the benches in front of the 
depot, so they could sit down while they waited 
for their bus or train. He was alone except 
for Alec. 

He located the scrap of paper in one of the 
slots between the wonf planks. It had almost 
slipped through. - 

He took it over to the cab and studied 
it. 

He heard Alec say, “Well, where do we/go 
now?” Alec sounded dubious. 

He glanced at his watch. Ten thirty-five. 
Not quite an hour and a half until midnight. 
There were a lot of things he could do, but 
he could not do more than a couple of them 
in that time. His thoughts moved sluggishly 
almost painfully. 



He looked around at the dim buildings. The 
seaward halves of some of the street lamps , 
were painted black. Up a side street there 
were signs of life. He looked again .at the 
scrap of paper. ;; 

Then he made a decision. 

“I think there’s a hotel on the main street',” 
he told Alec. “You can drive me there.” 

“Eagle Hotel” read the black-edged gold 
letters on the plate-glass window, behind which 
the narrow lobby with its half-dozen empty 
chairs was nakedly revealed. ~ , 

He told Alec to wait, and took a room for 
the night. The clerk was an old man in a 
shiny black coat. Norman saw from the 
register that no one else had checked in re- 
cently. He carried his bag up to the room 
and immediately returned to the lobby. 

“I haven’t been here for ten years,” he told 
the clerk. “I believe there is a cemetery about 
five blocks down the street, away from the 
Bay?” 

The old man’s sleepy eyes blinked wide open. 

“Bayport Cemetery? Just three blocks, and 
then a block and a half to the left. But—” 
He made a vague questioning noise in his 
throat. 

“Thank you,” said Norman. 

After a moment’s thought, he paid off Alec, 
who took the money and with obvious relief 
kicked his cab into life. - Norman walked down 
the main street, away from the Bay. 

After the first block there were no more 
stores. In this direction, Bayport petered out 
quickly. Most of the houses were dark. And 
after he turned left there were no more street 
lights. 

The gates of the cemetery were locked. He 
felt his way along the wall, behind the mask- 
ing shrubbery, trying to make as little noise as 
possible, until he found a scrubby tree whose 
lowest branch could bear N his weight. He got 
his hands on the top of the wall, scrambled up, 
and cautiously let himself down on the other 
side. 

Behind the wall it was very dark. There 
was a rustling sound, as if he had disturbed 
some small animal. More by feeling than 
sight, he located a headstone. It was a thin 
one, worn, mossy toward the base, and tilted 
at an angle. Probably from the middle of 
the last century. He dug into the earth with 
his hand, and filled an envelope he took from 
his pocket. 

He got back over the wall, making what 



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seemed a great deal of noise in the shrubbery. 
But the street was empty as ever. 

On his way back to the hotel he looked up 
at the sky, located the Pole Star, and calculated 
the orientation of his room. 

As he crossed the lobby, he felt the curious 
eyes of the old clerk boring into him. „ 

His room was in darkness. Chill salt air 
was pouring through the open window. He 
locked the door, shut the window, pulled down 
the blind, and switched on the light — a glar- 
ing overhead which revealed the room in all 
its dingy severity. A cradle phone struck the 
sole modem note. 

He took the envelope out of his pocket and 
weighed it in his hand. His lips curled in a 
peculiarly bitter smile. Then he reread the 
scrap of paper that had fluttered from Tansy’s 
hand. 

Add a small quantity of graveyard dirt, and wrap 
all in a piece of flannel, wrapping widdershins. Tell it 
to stop me. Tell it to bring me to you. 

Graveyard dirt. That was what he had 
found in Tansy’s dressing table. It had been 
the beginning of all this. Now he was fetch- 
ing it himself. 

He looked at his watch. Eleven twenty. 

He cleared the small table and set it in the 
center of the room, jabbing in his penknife 
to mark the edge facing east. “Widdershins” 
meant “against the sun” — from west to east, 

He placed the necessary ingredients on the 
table, cutting a short strip of flannel from 
the hem of his bathrobe, and fitted together 
the four sections of Tansy’s note. The dis- 
tasteful, bitter smile did not leave his lips. 

Taken together, the significant portions of 
the notes read: 

Take four lengths of four-inch white cord and a 
length of gut, a "bit of platinum or iridium, a piece of 
lodestone, a phonograph needle that has only played 
Scriabin’s “Ninth Sonata.” Tie the four white cords 
into a granny, a reef, a cat’s-paw, and a carrick bend. 
Tie the gut in a bowline. Add a small quantity of 
graveyard dirt, and wrap all in a piece of flannel, 
wrapping widdershins. Tell it to stop me. Tell it to 
bring me to you. 

In general outline, it was similar to a hun- 
dred recipes for Negro tricken-bags he had 
seen or heard about. The phonograph needle, 
the knots, and one or two other items, were 
obvious “white” additions. 

And it was all on the same level as the 
mental operations of a child or neurotic adult 



who religiously steps on, or avoids sidewalk 
cracks. 

A clock outside bonged the half-hour. 

Norman sat there looking at the stuff. It 
was hard for him to begin. It would have 
been different, he told himself, if he were doing 
it for a joke or a thrill, or if he were one of 
those people who dope up their minds with 
morbid supematuralism — who like to play 
around with magic because it’s medieval and 
aesthetic. But to tackle it in dead seriousness, 
to open your mind deliberately to supersti- 
tion — that was to join hands with the forces 
pushing the world back into the dark ages, 
to cancel the term “science” out of the equa- 
tion. 

But, behind Tansy, he had seen that thing. 
Of course, it had been an hallucination. But 
when hallucinations start ^behaving like reali- 
ties, even a scientist has to face the possi- 
bility that he may have to treat them like 
realities. And when hallucinations begin to 
threaten you and yours in a direct physical 
way — 

He reached out for the first length of cord 
and tied the ends together in a granny. 

When he came to the cat’s-paw, he had to 
consult the page he had tom from the dic- 
tionary. After a couple of false starts he man- 
aged it. 

But on the carrick bend he was all thumbs. 
It was a simple knot, but no matter how he 
went about it, he could not get it to look like 
the illustration. Sweat broke out on his fore- 
head. ^ Very'close in the room, he told himself. 
“I’m still overheated from rushing about.” 
The skin on his fingertips felt an inch thick. 
The ends of the cord kept eluding them. He 
remembered how Tansy’s fingers had rippled 
through the knots. 

Eleven forty-one. The phonograph needle 
started to roll off the table. He dropped the 
cord and laid the phonograph . needle against 
his fountain pen, so it would not roll. Then 
he started again on the knot. 

For a moment he thought he must have 
picked up the gut, the cord seemed so stiff and 
unresponsive. Incredible what nervousness 
can do to you, he told himself. His mouth was 
dry. He swallowed with difficulty. 

Finally, by keeping his eyes on the illustra- 
tion and imitating it step for step, he man- 
aged to tie a carrick bend. All the while he 
felt as if there were more between his fingers 
than a cord, as if he were manipulating against 



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a great inertia. Just as he finished, he felt a 
slight prickly chill, like the onset of fever, and" 
the light overhead seepied to dim a trifle. Eye- 
strain. 

The phonograph needle was rolling in the 
opposite direction, spinning faster and faster. 
He slapped his hand down on it, missed it, 
caught it at the edge of the table. 

Just like a Ouija board, he told himself. 
You try to keep your fingers, poised on the 
planchette, perfectly motionless. As a result 
muscular tensions accumulate. They reach 
the breaking point. Seemingly without any 
volition on your part, the planchette begins 
to roll and skid about on its three little legs, 
traveling from letter to letter. Same thing 
here. Nervous and muscular tensions made it 
difficult for him to tie knots. Obeying a uni- 
versal tendency, he projected the difficulty 
into the cord. And, by hand and knee pres- 
sure, he had been doing some unconscious 
table tipping. 

Between his fingers, the phonograph needle 
seemed to vibrate, as if it were being pounded 
by infinitesimal hammers.^ There was a very 
faint sensation of electric shock. Unbidden, 
the torturesome, clangorous chords of the 
“Ninth Sonata” began to sound in his mind. 
Rot! One well-known symptom of extreme 
nervousness is a tingling in the fingers— often 
painfully intense. But his throat was dry 
and his snort . of bitter contempt sounded 
choked. 

He pinned the needle in the flannel for greater 
safety. 

Eleven forty-seven. Reaching for the gut, 
his fingers felt as shaky and weak as if he just 
climbed a hundred-foot rope hand over hand. 
The stuff looked normal, but it was slimy to 
the touch. And for some moments he had been 
conscious of an acrid, almost metallic odor 
replacing the salt smell of the Bay. Tactual 
and olfactory hallucinations joining in with 
the visual and auditory, he told himself. He 
could still hear the “Ninth Sonata.” 

He knew a bowline backwards, and it should 
have been easier because the gut was not as 
stiff as it ought to be, but he felt there were 
other forces manipulating it or other mentali- 
ties trying to give orders to his fingers, so 
that the gut was trying to tie itself into a slip- 
knot, a reef, a half hitch— anything but a 
bowline. His fingers ached, his eyes were heavy 
with an abnormal fatigue. He was working 
against a mounting inertia — a dangerous, 
crushing inertia. He remembered Tansy tell- 



ing him that first day — “There’s a law of re- 
action in all conjuring — like the kick of a 
gun — ” Eleven fifty- two. 

With a great effort, he canalized his men- 
tal energy, focused his attention only on the 
knot. His numb fingers began to move in an 
odd rhythm, a rhythm of the “Ninth Sonata,” 
pin vivo. The bowline was tied. 

The overhead light dimmed markedly, throw- 
ing the whole room into a sooty gloom. Hys- 
terical blindness, he told himself in a despair- 
ing effort to maintain the appearances of sanity 
and scientific law. It was very cold now, so 
cold that he fancied he could see his breath. 
And silent, terribly silent. Against that si- 
lence he could feel and hear the rapid drum- 
ming of his heart, accelerating unendurably to 
the thundering, swirling rhythm of the music. 

Then, in one instant of diabolic paralyzing 
insight, he knew that this was sorcery. No 
mere puttering about with ridiculous medieval 
implements, no effortless sleight of hand, but a 
straining, back-breaking struggle to keep con- 
trol of forces summoned , of which the objects 
he manipulated were only the symbols. Out- 
side the walls of the room, outside the walls 
of his skull, outside the impalpable energy- 
walls of his mind, he felt those forces gather- 
ing, swelling up, dreadfully expectant, waiting 
for him to make a false move so that they 
could crush him. / ^ 

He could not believe it. He had to believe 

The only question was — would he be able to 
stay in control? 

Eleven fifty-seven. He gathered the objects 
together on the flannel. The needle jumped 
to the lodestone and clung. It shouldn’t; it 
wasn’t that magnetic. He took a pinch of 
graveyard dirt. Between finger and thumb, 
each separate particle seemed to crawl, like a 
tiny maggot. He sensed that something was 
missing. He could not remember what it was. 
He fumbled for the formula. A current of 
air was blowing the scraps of paper off the 
table. He sensed an eager, inward surge of 
the forces outside, as if they knew he was 
failing. He clutched at The papers, 1 managed 
to pin them down. Bending close, he made 
out the words “platinum or iridium.” He 
jabbed his pen against the table, broke off the 
whole nib, and added it to the other objects. 

He stood at the side of the table away from 
the knife that marked the east, trying to steady 
his shaking hands against the edge. His teeth 



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» 

were chattering. The room was utterly dark 
now except for the impossible bluish light that 
beat through the window shade. 

Abruptly the strip of flannel started to curl 
like a strip of heated gelatine, to roll itself up 
from east to west, with the sun. 

He jerked forward, got his hand inside the 
flannel before it closed, drew it apart — in his 
numb hands it seemed like metal — and rolled 
it against the sun, widdershins. 

The silence was intensified. Even the sound 
of his beating heart was cut off. He knew that 
something was listening with a terrible in- 
tensity for his command, and that something 
was hoping with an even more terrible avidity 
that he would not be able to utter that com- 
mand. 

Yet somewhere a clock was booming — or 
was it not a clock, but the secret sound of 
time? Nine — ten— eleven — twelve. 

His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. 
He kept on choking soundlessly. He could 
feel the walls giving way. 

Then, in a dry, croaking voice, he man- 
aged: “Stop Tansy. Bring her here.” 

The walls were shaken as if they were at 
the center of a whirlpool. Darkness became 
absolute. There was an eruption of force 
from the table. He felt himself flung across 
the room. 

Then the forces were gone. In all things, 
tension gave way to limpness. Sound and 
light returned. He was sprawled across the 
bed. On the table was a little flannel packet, 
no longer of any consequence. 

He felt as if he had been doped, or were 
waking after a debauch. There was no in- 
clination to do anything. Emotion was absent. 

Outwardly everything was the same. Even 
his mind, with automatic rationality, could 
still wearily take up the thankless task of ex- 
plaining his experiences on a scientific basis 
—weaving an elaborate web in which psychosis, 
hallucination, and improbable coincidences 
were the strands. 

But inwardly something had changed, and 
would never change back. 

Considerable time passed. 

He heard steps mounting the stairs, then 
in the hall. They made a squish-squish sound, 
as if the shoes were soaking wet. 

They stopped outside his door. There was 
a soft rap. 

He crossed the room, turned the key in the 
lock — 



A strand of seaweed was caught in the silver 
brooch. The gray suit was dark now and 
heavy with water, except for one spot which 
had started to dry and was faintly dusted with 
a white powder — salt. The odor of the Bay 
was intimate and close. There was another 
strand of sea, weed clinging to one ankle against 
the wrinkled stocking. 

And around the stained shoes, a little pool 
of water was forming. 

His eyes traced the wet footprints down the 
hall. At the head of the stairs the old clerk 
was standing, one foot still on the last step. 
He was carrying a small pigskin suitcase. 

“What’s all this about?” he quavered, when 
he saw that Norman was looking at him. “You 
didn’t tell me you were expecting your wife. 7 
She looks like she’d thrown herself in the 
Bay. We don’t want anything queer happen- 
ing in this hotel — anything wrong.” 

“It’s quite all right,” said Norman, prolong- 
ing the moment before he would have to look 
at her face. “I’m sorry I forgot to tell you. 
May I have the bag?” 

“ — only last year we had a suicide” — the 
old clerk did not seem to realize he was speak- 
ing his thoughts aloud — “bad for the hotel — ” 
His voice trailed off. He looked at Norman, 
gathered himself together, and came hesitat- 
ingly down the hall. When he was a few steps 
away, he stopped, reached out and put down 
the suitcase, turned, and walked rapidly away. 

Unwillingly, Norman raised his eyes until 
they were on a level with hers. 

The face was pale, very pale, and without 
expression. The lips were tinged with blue. 
Wet hair was plastered against the cheeks. A 
thick lock crossed one eye socket, like a cur- 
tain half drawn, and curled down toward the 
throat, where it merged with a strand of sea- 
weed. The dull eyes stared at him, without 
sign of recognition. And no hand moved up 
to brush the lock of hair away. 

From the hem of the skirt, water was drip- 
ping. 

The lips parted. The voice had the monoto- 
nous murmur of water. 

“You were too late,” the lips said. “You 
were a minute too late.” 

XI. 

For a third time their exchange of conversa- 
tion had come back to the same question. He 
had the maddening sensation of following a 
* robot that was walking in a huge endless circle 



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and always treading on precisely the same 
blades of grass as it ^retraced its path. 

With the hopeless conviction that he would 
not get any further this time, he asked the 
question again: “But how can you lack con- 
sciousness, and at the same time know that 
you lack consciousness? If your mind is blank, 
you cannot at the same time be aware that 
your mind is blank.” 

The hands of his watch were creeping to- 
ward three in the morning. The chill of night’s 
lowest ebb pervaded the dingy hotel room. 
Tansy sat stiffly, wearing his bathrobe and big. 
fleece-lined slippers, with a blanket over her 
knees and a bath towel wrapped around her 
head. They should have made her look child- 
like and perhaps even artlessly attractive. 
They did not. If you were to unwind the towel 
you would find the top of the skull sawed ofl 
and the brains removed, an empty bowl — that 
was the illusion Norman experienced every 
time he made the mistake of looking into her 
eyes. 

The pale lips opened. “I know nothing. 
I only speak. They have taken away my soul. 
But my voice is a function of my body.” 

You could not even say that the voice was 
patiently explanatory. It was too utterly 
empty and colorless even for that. The words, 
clearly enunciated and evenly spaced, all 
sounded alike. They came with the regular 
beat of a machine. 

The last thing he wanted to do was ham- 



mer questions at that stiff pitiful figure, but 
at all costs he must awaken some spark of 
feeling in the masklike face; he must find some 
intelligible starting point before his own mind 
could begin to work effectually. 

“But, Tansy, if you can talk about the 
present situation, you must be aware of it. 
You’re here in this room with me!” 

The toweled head shook once, like that of 
a mechanical doll. • 

“Nothing is here with you but a body. ‘I’ 
is not here.” 

.His mind automatically corrected “is” to 
“am” before he realized that there had been 
no grammatical error and shuddered at the 
implications of the trifling change in a tiny 
verb. 

“You mean,” he asked, “that you can see 
or hear nothing? That there is just a black- 
ness?”. 7 - 

Again that simple' mechanical headshake, 
which carried more absolute conviction than 
the most heated protestations. 

“My body sees and hears perfectly. It has 
suffered no injury. It can function in all par- 
ticulars. But there is nothing inside. There 
is not even a blackness.” 

His tired, fumbling mind jumped to the 
subject of behavioristic psychology and its 
fundamental assertion that human reactions 
can be explained completely, and satisfactorily 
without once referring to consciousness — that 
it need not even be assumed that conscious- 




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ness exists. Here was the perfect proof. And 
yet not so perfect, for the behavior of this 
body lacked every one of those little manner- 
isms whose sum is personality. The way 
Tansy used to squint and twist one little 
finger around another when thinking through 
a difficult question. The familiar quirk at the 
corners of her mouth when she felt flattered 
or slyly amused. All gone. Even the quick 
triple headshake he knew so well, with the 
slight bunny-rabbit wrinkling of the little 
nose, had become that robot’s “No.” 

The sensory organs still responded to stimuli. 
They sent nerve impulses to the hindbrain or 
midbrain — or cortex— where they traveled 
about and gave rise to efferent impulses which 
activated glands and muscles, including the 
motor organs of speech. But that was all. 
None of those intangible flurries we call con- 
sciousness hovered around the webwork of 
nervous activity in the cortex. What had im- 
parted style — Tansy’s style, like no one else’s 
— to every movement and utterance of the 
body, was gone. There was left only a physio- 
logical organism, without sign or indication oi 
personality. Not even a mad or an idiot soul — 
yes! why not use that old term now that it 
had an obvious specific meaning? — peered 
from the gray-green eyes which winked at in- 
tervals with machinelike regularity, but only 
to lubricate the cornea, nothing more. 

He felt a grim sort of relief go through him, 
now that he had been able to picture it in 
definite terms. But the picture itself— his 
mind veered to the memory of a newspaper 
story about an old man who had kept locked 
in his bedroom for years the body of a young 
woman whom he loved and who had died of 
an incurable disease. He had maintained the 
body in a miraculous state of preservation by 
wax and other means they said, had talked to 
it every night and morning, had been con- 
vinced that he would some day reanimate it 
completely — until they found out and took 
him away, and buried it. Had that body — 

“Tansy,” he was asking, “when your soul 
went, why didn’t you die?” 

“Usually the soul lingers to the end, unable 
to escape, and vanishes or dies when the body 
dies,” the voice answered, its words as evenly 
spaced as if timed to a metronome. “But He 
Who Walks Behind was tearing at mine. 
There was the weight of green water against 
my face. I knew it was midnight. I knew 
that you had failed. In that moment of de- 



* spair, He Who Walks Behind was able to draw 
forth my soul. In the same moment Your 
Agent’s arms were about me, lifting me to- 
ward the air. My soul was close enough to 
know what had happened, yet not close enough 
to return. Its doubled anguish was the last 
memory it imprinted on my brain. Your 
Agent and He Who Walks Behind concluded 
that each had obtained the thing he had been 
sent for, and so there was no struggle between 
them.” 

The picture created in his mind was so shock- 
ingly vivid that it seemed incredible that it 
could have been produced by the words of a 
mere physiological machine. And yet only 
a physiological machine could have told the 
story with such total restraint. 

“Is there nothing that touches you?” he 
asked abruptly in a loud voice, gripped by an 
intolerable spasm of anguish at the emptiness 
of her eyes. “Haven’t you a single emotion 
left?” 

“Yes. One.” This time it was not a ro- 
bot’s headshake but a robot’s nod. For the 
first time there was a stir of feeling, a hint of 
motivation. The tip of a pallid tongue licked 
hungrily around the pale lips. “I want my 
soul.” 

He caught his breath. Now that he had 
succeeded in awakening a feeling in her, he 
hated it. There was something so animal 
about it, so like some light-sensitive marine 
worm blindly yet greedily wriggling toward the 
sunlight. 

“I want my soul,” the voice repeated me- 
chanically, tearing at his emotions more than 
any plaintive or whining accents could have 
done. “At the last moment, although it could 
not return, my soul implanted that one emotion 
in me. It knew what awaited it. It' knew 
there are things that can be done to a soul. 
It was very much afraid.” 

He ground the words out between his teeth. 
“Where do you think your soul is?” 

“She has it. The woman with the little 
black eyes.” 

“Evelyn Sawtelle?” He was remembering 
a phone call. 

“Yes. But it is not wise to speak of her 
by name.” 

His hand shot out for the phone. At that 
moment he had to do something definite, or 
lose control of himself completely. For too 
long he had sat impotently by, watching the 
ghostly and harrowing drama unfold. Now 
he had to strike out. 



S3 



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UNKNOWN WORLDS 



After a time he roused the night clerk and 
got the local operator. 

“Yes, sir,” came the singsong voice. “Hemp- 
nell 1284. You wish to make a person-to- 
person call to Evelyn Sawtelle — E-V-E-L-Y-N 
S-A-W-T-E-L-L-E, sir? . . . Will you please 
hang up and wait? It will take considerable 
time to make a connection.” 

“I want my soul. I want to go to that 
woman. T want to go to Hempnell.” Now 
that he had touched off the blind hunger in 
her, it persisted. He was reminded of a phono- 
graph needle caught in the same groove, or a 
mechanical toy turned on to a new track by 
a little push. 

“We’ll go there all right.” It was still hard 
for him to control his breathing. “We’ll get 
it back.” ' 

“But I must start for Hempnell soon.' My 
clothes were ruined by the water. I must have 
the maid clean and press them.” 

With a slow, even movement she got to 
her feet and started toward the phone. 

“But, Tansy,” he objected involuntarily. 
“It’s three in the morning. You can’t get a 
maid now.” 

“But my clothes must be cleaned and 
pressed. I must start for Hempnell soon.” 
The words might have been those of an 
obstinate woman, sulky and selfish. But they 
had less tone that a sleepwalker’s. 

, She kept on toward the phone. Although he 
did not anticipate that he would do it, he 
shrank out of her way, pressing close against 
the side of the bed. ' - 

“But even if there is a maid,” he, said, “she 
won’t come at this hour.” 

The pallid face turned toward him incuri- 
ously. “The maid will be a woman.” It was 
a little while before he got the implication of 
the words. “She will come when she hears 
me.” 

Then she was talking to the night clerk. “Is 
there a maid in the hotel? . . . Send her to my 
room. . . . Then ring her. . . . I cannot wait 
until morning. ... I need her at once. ... I 
cannot tell you the reason. . . . Thank you.” 
Norman was thinking: How can a physio- 

logical machine conceive and carry out even 
such a simple plan?: Yet how could a conscious 
human being do it' with such utter listlessness? 
Same paradox. He wondered if he ought to 
stop her. But an idea was growing in his 
mind. 

■ There was. a. long wait, while he heard faintly 
the repeated ringing at the other end of the 



line. He could imagine the sleepy, surly voice 
that finally answered. 

“Is this the maid? ... . . Come at once to 
Room 37.” He could almost catch the in- 
dignant answer. Then — “Can’t you hear my 
voice? Don’t you realize who is speaking? . . . 
Yes. . . . Come at once.” And she replaced 
the phone in its cradle. . 

“Tansy — ” he began. Then his eyes met 
hers, and once again he found himself asking 
a halting prefatory question, although he had 
not intended to. “You are able to hear and 
answer my questions?” 

“I can answer questions. I have been an- 
swering questions for three hours.” The lack 
of expression only made the irony more com- 
plete. 

But— logic prompted wearily — if she can 
remember what has been happening these last 
three hours, then surely — And yet, what is 
memory but a track worn in the nervous 
system? In order to explain memory you 
don’t need to bring in consciousness. Quit 
banging your head against that stone wall, 
you fool! — came another inward prompting. 
You’ve looked in her eyes, haven’t you? Well, 
then, get on with it! 

“Tansy, is that woman coming here because 
she’s ... well, the same as you were?” 

“Yes. But since you are present she will 
not speak of it.” 

“But if I weren’t here — or if I hid myself?” 

“She might ^respond to questioning.” The 
hungry subanimal expression came back, and 
the tip of the tongue appeared between the 
lips, “If I make her speak . . ^if I make-you 
believe — will we go back to Hempnell very 
quickly? Will you help me?” - 

“Yes.” Of course he would. He wouldn’t 
do anything else. But what good to say all 
that to a blank physiological machine beyond 
the reach of comfort? Besides, the maid should 
soon be here, and an unwholesome curiosity 
was eating at him. 

“I’ll leave the closet door just a little ajar,” 
he said. “She probably won’t notice. See?” 

There wore footsteps in the hall. The robot 
nod was his only answer. 

“You wanted me, mum?” Contrary to his 
expectations, the voice was young, but very 
low. It sounded as if she had swallowed as 
she spoke. ‘ 

“Yes. I want you to clean and press some 
things of mine. They’re hanging on the edge 
of the bathtub. Go and get them.” 



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The maid came into his line of vision, then. 
She would be very heavy in a few years, he 
thought, but she was handsome now, though 
puffed with sleep. She had hastily pulled on 
a dull-black dress, but her feet were in slippers 
and her hair was snarly. 

“Be careful with the dress. It’s wool,” came 
Tansy’s voice, sounding just as toneless as 
when it had been directed at him. “And I 
want them promptly at nine o’clock.” 

Norman half expected to hear an objection 
to this unreasonable request, but there was 
none. The girl walked rapidly out of the bath- 
room, the damp clothes hurriedly slung over 
one arm, as if her one object were to get away 
before she was spoken to again. 

"Wait a moment, girl. I want to ask you 
a question.” The voice was somewhat louder 
this time. That was the only change whatso- 
ever, but it had a startling effect of command. 

The girl hesitated, then swung around un- 
willingly, and Norman got a good look at her 
face. He could not see Tansy — the closet door 
just cut her off — but he could see the fear 
come to the surface of the girl’s face as she 
turned, see the sleep-creased cheek pale. 

“Yes, mum?” she managed. 

There was a considerable pause. He could 
tell from the way the girl shrank, hugging 
the damp clothes tight to her body, that Tansy 
had lifted her eyes and was looking at her. 

Finally: “You know The Easy Way to Do 

Things? The Ways to Get and Guard?” 

Norman could have sworn that the girl gave 
a guilty start at that second phrase. But she 
only shook her head quickly, and mumbled, 
“No, mum. I ... I don’t know what you’re 
talking about.” 

“You mean you have never learned How to 
Make Wishes Work? You don’t conjure, or 
spell, or hex? You don’t know the Art?” 

This time the “No” was almost inaudible. 
The girl was trying to look away, but failing. 

“I think you are lying.” 

You could put any construction on those 
toneless words. The girl twisted, hands tightly 
clutching her overlapping arms. He wanted 
to go out and stop it, but curiosity held him 
rigid. 

The girl’s resistance broke. “Please, mum. 
We’re not supposed to tell.” 

“You may tell me. What Procedures do 
you use?” 

The girl’s perplexity at the new word looked 
real. 

“I don’t know anything about that, mum. 



I don’t do much. Just spells. Like now my 
boy friend’s gone in the army, I do things to 
keep him from getting shot or hurt, and I’ve 
spelled him so that he’ll keep away from other 
women. Honest, I don’t do much, mum. And 
it don’t always work. And lots of things I 
can’t get that way.” Her words had begun te 
run away with her. 

“Very well. Where did you learn to do 
this?” 

“Some I learned from ma when I was a 
kid. And some from Mrs. Neidel — she gets 
spells against bullets from her grandmother 
who had a family in some European war be- 
fore the last one. But most women won’t tell 
you anything. And some spells I kind of figure 
out myself, and try different ways until they 
work. You won’t tell on me, mum?” 

“No. Look at me now. What has hap- 
pened to me?” 

“Honest, mum, I don’t know. Please, mum, 
don’t make me say it.” The girl’s terror and 
reluctance were so obviously genuine that 
Norman felt a surge of anger at Tansy. Then 
he remembered that the thing beyond the door 
was incapable of either cruelty or kindness. 

“I want you to tell me.” 

“I don’t know how to say it, mum. But 
you’re . . . you’re dead.” Suddenly she threw 
herself at Tansy’s feet. “Oh, please, please 
don’t take mine! Please!” 

“I would not take your soul. You would 
get much the best of that bargain. You may 
go away now.” 

“Oh, thank you, thank you.” She hastily 
gathered up the scattered clothes. “I’ll have 
them all ready for you at nine o’clock. Really 
I will.” And she hurried out. 

Only when he moved, did Norman realize 
that his muscles were stiff and aching from 
those few taut minutes of peering. The robed 
and toweled figure was sitting in exactly the 
same position as when he had last seen it, 
hands loosely folded, eyes still directed toward 
where the girl had been standing. 

“If you knew all this,” he asked simply, 
“why were you willing to stop last week when 
I asked you?” 

“There are two sides to every woman.” It 
might have been a, mummy dispensing elder 
wisdom. “One is rational, like a man. The 
other knows. Men are artificially isolated 
creatures, like islands in a sea, of magic, pro- 
tected by their rationality and by the devices 
of their women. Their isolation gives them 



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greater forcef ulness in thought and action, but I 
the women know.. Women might be able to 
rule the world openly, but they do not want 
the work or the responsibility. And men 
might learn to excel them in the Art. Even 
now there may be male sorcerers, but very 
few. 

“Last week I suspected much that I did 
not tell you. But the rational- side is strong 
in me, and I wanted to be close to you in all 
ways. Like many women, I had not ’been 
awakened. I was not certain. And when I 
destroyed my charms and guards, I became 
temporarily blind to sorcery. Like a person 
used to large doses of a drug, I was uriin^ 
fluenced by small doses. Rationality was domi- 
nant. I enjoyed a few days of false security. 
Then rationality itself proyed to me that you 
were the victim of sorcery. And during my 
journey here I learned much, partly from re- 
examination of my own memories, partly from, 
what He Who Walks Behind let slip:” She 
paused and added, with the blank innocent 
cunning of a child, “Shall we go back to Hemp- 
nell now?” 

The phone rang. It was the night clerk, 
almost incoherent with some sort of agitation, 
babbling threateningly about police and evic- 
tion. To pacify him, Norman had to promise 
to come down at once. 

The old mail was waiting at the foot of the, 
stairs. 

“Look here, mister,” he began, shaking a 
finger, “I want to know what's going on. Just 
now my Sissy came down from your room 
white as a sheet. She wouldn’t tell me any- 
thing, but she was trembling like all get-out. 
Sissy’s my granddaughter. I got her this job, 
and I’m responsible for her.” 

He seemed genuinely concerned. 

“I know what hotels are. I’ve worked in 
’em all my. life. And I know the kind of 
people that come to them — sometimes men 
and women working together — -and I know 
the kind of 'things they* tryJto do to young 
girls. . 

“Now I’m not saying anything against you, 
mister. But it was mighty queer the way 
your wife came here. I thought when she 
asked me to call Sissy that she was sick or^ 
something. But if she’s sick, why haven’t you 
called a doctor? And what are you doing still 
up at almost four? Mrs. Thompson in the 
next room called to say there was talking in 
your room — not loud, ‘but it scared her. I got 
a right to know what’s going on.” 



Norman put on his best classroom manner 
and blandly dissected the old man’s apprehen- 
sions until they began to look very unsub- 
stantial. Dignity told. With a -last show of 
grumbling^ the old man let himself be con- 
vinced. As % Norman started upstairs, he was 
shuffling back to the switchboard. 

On the second flight, Norman heard a phone 
ringing. As he was walking down the hall, it 
stopped. 

He opened the door. Tansy was standing 
by the bed, speaking into the phone. Its dull 
blackness, curving from mouth to ear em- 
phasized the. pallor of lips and cheek and the 
whiteness of the toweling. 

“This is Tansy Saylor,” she was saying tone- 
lessly. “I want my soul.'” A pause. '“-Can’t 
you hear me, Evelyn? This is Tansy Saylor. 
I want my soul:” 

He had completely forgotten the call he 
had put in. . It bad been done in a moment of 
crazy anger. He hadn’t even any clear idea of 
what he had been going to say. 

He stepped forward. . A low wailing sound 
was coming from the phone. Tansy was talk- 
ing against it. 

“This, is Tansy Saylor. I want my soul.” 

He was almost there. The wailing sound had 
swiftly risen to a squeal, but mixed with it 
was an intermittent windy whirring. 

He reached out to take the phone. But at 
that instant the phone twisted like -a stumpy 
black worm, whipped tight to the skin, and 
dug into chin and neck just below the ear, like 
a double-ended black paw. The squeal became 
a muffled sucking. 

If you tore that away, you would tear the 
face with it. He knew. He dropped to his 
knees and ripped the cord from the wall. 
Violet sparks spat from ‘the torn wire. The 
loose /end writhed like a wounded snake, 
whipped around his forearm, lightened spas- 
modically, then relaxed. 

He stood up. ‘The phone had fallen to the 
floor. There was nothing out of the ordinary 
about it -now. 

Tansy was still standing in the same place. 
Not an atom of fear showed in her expression. 
With the unconcemedness of a machine, she 
had lifted .a hand and was slowly massaging 
cheek and neck. From the -corner of the 
squeezed lips a few drops of blood were 
trickling. 

The rack, he was thinking, would be too 
good for that woman. i Or the scourge, jor the 



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wheel. So foully to attack a mere empty 
creature was an ultimate, unspeakable vicious- 
ness, like crushing a kitten under your heel. 
Perhaps the Boot, or the Funnel — 

Swiftly the phantasmagoria of the Inquisi- 
tion faded from his mind, as his first surge of 
anger spent itself and settled down to a steady 
hate. 

“What did she say to you?” he asked evenly. 
“She kept saying, ‘Who is this? Who is 
this?’ That was all. Then she stopped and 
the noise began.” 

“How did she sound?” 

“She sounded very frightened.” 

“Good!” He smacked his fist against his 
palm. “Magic works,” he said grimly. “We’ll 
make it work better. She’ll be more fright- 
ened after we begin.” 

“Perhaps you have already begun.” 

He did not understand at the time the 
significance of that toneless reply. 

XII. 

The rhythmic rattle and surge of the train 
had a soothing monotony. You could hear 
the engine puffing lustily. The wide, heat- 
baked, green fields swinging past the window 
of the compartment, drowsed in the noonday 
sun. The farms and cattle and horses dotting 
them here and there, looked equally somno- 
lent. He would have liked to sleep, but he 
knew he would not be able to. And as for — 
She apparently never slept. 

“I want to run over some things,” he said. 
“Interrupt me if you hear anything that sounds 
wrong or you don’t understand.” 

From the comer of his eye he noted the 
figure sitting between him and the window nod 
once. 

It occurred to him that there was something 
terrible about an adaptability that could 
familiarize him even to — her, so that now after 
only a day and a half he was using her as a 
kind of thinking machine, asking for her mem- 
ories and reactions in the same way that a 
man might direct a servant to put a certain 
record on the phonograph. 

At the same time he knew that he was able 
to make this close contact endurable only by 
carefully directing his thoughts and actions — 
like the trick he had acquired of never quite 
looking at her directly. And he kept himself 
nerved up with the thought of what lay ahead, 
and his determination to regain what had been 
lost, and his hate. The present condition was 



only temporary. But if he once let himself 
start to think what it would mean to live a 
lifetime, to share bed and board, with that — • 
blackness — coldness — vacancy. 

Other people noticed the difference all right. 
Like those crowds they’d had to push through 
in New York yesterday. Somehow people al- 
ways edged away, so they wouldn’t have to 
touch her, and he had caught more than one 
following glance, poised between curiosity and 
fear. And when that other woman started to 
scream — lucky they had been able to lose 
themselves in the crowd. 

The brief stopover at New York had pro- 
vided him with some vitally necessary ma- 
terials, though he still felt hampered by the 
lack of his library, and notes. But he had been 
glad last night when it was over. The com- 
partment seemed a haven of privacy. 

What was it those other people noticed? 
True, if you looked closely, the heavy cosmetics 
only provided a grotesque and garish contrast 
to the underlying pallor, and powder did not 
wholly conceal the ugly dark bruise around 
the mouth. But the veil helped, and you bad 
to look very closely — the cosmetics were prac- 
tically a theatrical make-up. Was it her walk 
that they noticed, or the way her clothes hung 
— her clothes always looked a little like a scare- 
crow’s now, though you could not put your 
finger on the reason. Or was it — 

But that was what he must not think about. 

“Magic is a practical science.” He talked to 
the wall, as if dictating. “There is all the dif- 
ference in the world between a formula in 
physics and a formula in magic, although they 
have the same name. The former describes, 
in terse mathematical symbols, some cause- 
effect relationship of wide generality. But a 
formula in magic is a way of getting or ac- 
complishing something. It always takes into 
account the motivation or desire of the person 
performing the magic — be it greed, love, re- 
venge, or what not. Whereas the experiment 
in physics is essentially independent of the 
experimenter. In short, there has been little 
or no “pure” — nonpractical — magic, compar- 
able to pure science. 

“This distinction between physics and magic 
is just an accident of history. Physics is ulti- 
mately as practical as magic — but it possesses 
a superstructure of theory that magic lacks. 
Magic could be given such a superstructure by 
research in pure magic and by the investigation 
and correlation of the magic formulas of dif- 



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ferent peoples and times, with a' view to deriv- 
ing -basic formulas which could be expressed in 
mathematical symbols and which would have 
a wide application. Most persons .practicing 
magic thave been (too interested :in immediate 
results to bother about theory. But just .as 
research in pure science has ultimately led, 
seemingly by accident, to -results of-vast practi- 
cal importance, so /research in >pure magic might 
be expected .to yield similar results.” 

,He .waited a moment for comment^ then 
went on. . 

“The subject matter of magic is akin to that 
of physics, in .that it deals -with certain forces 
and materials, though these — ” 

“I .believe it is more akin to psychology,” 
the voice interrupted. 

“,Ho,w so?” He still looked at the wall. 
“Because it concerns the control of other 
beings, the summoning of them, and the con- 
straining of them to perform certain actions.” 
“Good. That is very .suggestive, -Fortu- 
nately, formulas may still hold .good so .long as 
their reference is clear, though we are ignorant 
of the precise nature of -the entities to which 
they refer. For example, .a physicist need not 
be able to give a visual description of :an atom, 
even if the term visual appearance has any 
meaning when applied to an atom — .which .is 
doubtful. Similarly, a sorcerer need not be 
able to describe the appearance and nature of 
the -entity he summons. But the point :is well 
taken. Many seemingly' impersonal forces, 
when broken down sufficiently, become some- 
thing very .much like. personality. It’s not too 
far-fetched ito say that -it would take a science 
resembling psychology -to .describe the behavior 
of a single electron, with all its whims -and im- 
pulses, though electrons in the aggregate -obey 
r relatively simple laws, just as human beings 
do when-considered as crowds. The same holds 
true of -the basic -entities of magic, and to a 
much .greater degree. 

“It -is partly for this reason that magical 
processes are so tricky and dangerous, and 
why their working can be so readily impeded 
if the intended victim is on guard against them 
— -as your formulas have to our knowledge been 
nullified since Mrs. Gunnison stole your book. 
That one formula I used on Sunday night 
worked only because it was not anticipated that 
I would be the operator. And jeven at that its 
working was greatly hindered.” 

His words possessed -for him an incredibly 
strange overtone. But it was only by main- 
taining a dry, scholarly manner -that he could 



keep going. He knew that at the first touch of 
casualness or informality, -the .latent -morbidity 
of the situation would engulf -him. 

“There remains one all-important considera- 
tion,” he went on swiftly. “Magic appears to 
be -a science which markedly depends on its 
environment — that is, the situation of the 
world and -the .general conditions of the .cosmos 
at any particular time. For .example, Euclidean 
geometry is useful on Earth, but there are re- 
gions — and it would be easy to imagine more 
—in which a non-Euclidean .geometry is^more 
practical. The same is true .of magic, but ’to 
a more striking degree. The basic, unstated 
formulas of magic appear to change with the 
passage of time, requiring frequent .restatement 
— though it might conceivably be possible to 
discover master-formulas governing that 
change. .It .has been speculated that the .laws 
of physics show a. similar evolutionary tendency 
— though if they do evolve, it is at a much less 
rapid rate than those of magic. It is n'atural 
that the laws of magic should evolve or change 
more swiftly, since magic depends on -a -contact 
between the material world and another 'level 
of being — /and that contact is complex and may 
be shifting rapidly. 

“Take astrology, for example. In the course 
of several thousand years, -the .precession of 
the -equinoxes has put the Sun into entirely 
different celestial houses — .signs of the Zodiac — 
at .the same times -of year. A person born, say, 
on March 22nd, is still said to be born in Aries, 
though he is actually born -when the Sun is in 
the (Constellation Pisces . A failure -to take into 
consideration this evolutionary change since 
the formulas of astrology were first discovered, 
has rendered the formulas obsolete and .in- 
validated them for — ” 

“It is my belief,” the voice broke in, -like a 
phonograph suddenly starting, “that astrology 
has always been largely invalid. That it -is 
one of the many pretended sciences which have 
been .confused with true magic and used as a 
kind of window dressing. Such is my belief.” 

“I presume that may be the case, and it 
.would help to explain why magic itself has been 
outwardly discredited as a science — which is * 
the point I’m getting at. 

“Suppose the basic formulas of physics — 
such as Newton’s three laws of motion — had ' 
changed several ‘times in the .last few thousand 
years. The discovery of any physical -laws at 
any time would have been vastly more difficult. 
The same experiments would give different 



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results in different ages. But that is the case 
with magic, and explains why magic has been 
periodically discredited and has become repug- 
nant to the rational mind. It’s like what old 
Carr was saying about the run of the cards 
at bridge. After a few shuffles of a multitude 
of cosmic factors, the laws of magic change. A 
sharp eye can spot the changes, but continual 
experimentation, of the trial-and-error sort, is 
necessary to keep the crude practical formulas 
of magic in anything like working order, espe- 
cially since the basic formulas and the master- 
formulas have never been discovered. 

“Take a concrete example — the formula 1 
used Sunday night. It shows signs of recent 
revision. For instance, what did the original, 
unrevised formula have in place of the phono- 
graph needle?” 

“A willow whistle of a certain shape, which 
had been blown only once,” the voice told him. 

“And the platinum or iridium?” 

“The original formula mentioned silver, but 
a heavier metal serves better. Lead, however, 
proved altogether ineffective. *1 tried it once. 
It was apparently too unlike silver in other 
respects.” 

“Precisely. Trial-and-error experimentation. 
I have a modern substitute for the flannel 
wrapping which may prove more effective. 
Moreover, in the absence of thorough investiga- 
tion, we cannot be sure that all the ingredients 
of a magic formula are essential in making it 
work. A comparison of the magic formulas of 
different countries and peoples would be help- 
ful in this respect. It would show which in- 
gredients are common to all formulas and there- 
fore presumably essential, and which are not 
essential. I have in mind a method for making 
such a comparison;” 

There was a discreet knock at the door. 
Norman spoke a few words, and the figure 
drew down its veil and turned toward the 
window, as if staring stolidly at the passing 
fields. Then he opened the door. 

It was lunch, as long in coming as breakfast 
had been. And there was a new face — coffee- 
colored instead of ebony. Evidently the first 
waiter, who had shown growing nervousness in 
his previous trips to the compartment, had de- 
cided to sacrifice the tip and send someone else. 

With a mixture of curiosity and impatience, 
Norman waited for the reactions of the new- 
comer. He almost felt able to predict them. 
First a very quick inquisitive glance past him 



at the seated figure — Norman guessed they had 
become the major mystery of the train. Then 
a longer, sideways glance while setting up the 
folding table, ending with the eyes getting very 
wide; he could almost feel the coffee-colored 
flesh crawl. Only hurried, almost unwilling 
glances after that, with a growing uneasiness 
manifested in clumsy handling of the dishes 
and glassware. Then a too-pleasant smile and 
a hasty departure. 

Only once Norman interfered — to place the 
knives and forks so they lay at right angles to 
their usual position. 

The meal was a very simple one, almost 
ascetic. He did not look across the table as 
he ate. There was something worse than 
animal greediness about that methodical feed- 
ing. After the meal he put the left-overs into 
a small cardboard box, covered them with a 
napkin he had used to wipe all the dishes clean, 
and placed the box in his suitcase beside an 
envelope containing clippings from his own 
fingernails. The sight of the clean breakfast 
dishes had been one of the things which had 
"helped to disturb the first waiter, but Norman 
was determined to adhere strictly to a com- 
plete set of taboos. They were an odd assort- 
ment, gleaned from his memories of Negro, 
Polynesian, and Indian practices. Of course, 
there might be no protection gained by observ- 
ing taboos. But then again there might be. 
So he collected food fragments, saw to it that 
no knives or other sharp instruments pointed 
toward them, had them sleep with their heads 
nearest the engine and their destination, and 
enforced a number of other minor regulations. 
Eating in private satisfied still another taboo, 
but there was more than one reason for that. 

He glanced at his watch. Only half an hour 
until Hempnell. He had not realized they were 
quite so close. There was the faint sense of 
an almost physical resistance from that region, 
as if the air were thickening. And his mind 
was tossing with a multitude of problems yet 
to be considered. 

Deliberately turning his back, he said, “Ac- 
cording to the myths, souls may be imprisoned 
in all sorts of ways — in boxes, in knots, in 
animals, in stones. Have you any ideas on this 
subject?” 

As he feared, this particular question brought 
the usual irrelevant response. The answering 
words had the same dull persistence. 

“I want my soul.” 



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His hands, clasped behind his back, tight- 
ened. This was why he had avoided the ques- 
tion until now. Yet he had to know more, if 
that were possible. 

“But where exactly should we look for it?” 
“I want my soul.” 

“Yes.” It was hard for him to control his 
voice. “But how, precisely, might it be hid- 
den? It will help if I know.” 

There was a rather long pause. Then, “The 
environment of £he soul is the human brain. 
If it is free, it immediately seeks such an ^en- 
vironment. It may be said that soul and body 
are two separate ^creatures, living together in a 
symbiotic relationship so intimate and tight 
that they normally seem -to >be only one crea- 
ture.; The closeness of this contact appear? to 
have increased with the centuries. Indeed, 
when the body it is occupying dies, the soul is 
usually unable to escape and appears tc die, 
too,^or to migrate to another level of being — 
I have no clear knowledge of that matter. But 
by supernatural means the soul may sometimes 
be divorced from the body it is occupying. 
Then,, if it is prevented from re-entering its 
own body, it is irresistibly drawn to another, 
whether or not that other body possesses a 
soul. And so the captive soul is usually im- 
prisoned in the brain of its captor * unable either 
to escape from or to control that brain, in im- 
mediate contact with the soul of the captor 
and forced to view and feel, in complete in- 
timacy, the workings of that soul. Therein 
lies perhaps its chief torment.” 

Beads of sweat- prickled his scalp and fore- 
head. 

His voice did not shake, but it was un- 
naturally heavy and sibilant as he asked, 
“What is Evelyn Sawtelle like?” 

The answer sounded as if it were being read 
verbatim from the jsummary of a political 
dossiejr. . ■ 

“She is dominated by a desire for social 
prestige. She spends most of her time in 
unsuccessfully attempting to be snobbish. She 
has romantic ideas about herself, but since they 
are too high-flown to find satisfaction, . she is 
prim and moralistic, with rigid standards of 
conduct. She believes she was cheated in her 
husband, and is always apprehensive that he 
will lose what ground she has gained for him. 
Being unsure of 'herself, she is given to acts 
of maliciousness and sudden cruelty. At pres- 
ent she is very frightened and constantly on 
guard. That is why she had her magic all 



ready when she received the telephone call. 

“I can’t wait until tomorrow,” he told him- 
self. “I must begin with her this very after- 
noon.” 

Aloud, he asked, “Mrs. Gunnison — what do 
you think of her?” 

“She is a woman of abundant vigor and ap- 
petites. She is a good housewife and hostess, 
but those activities hardly take the edge off ~ 
her energies. She should have been mistress 
of a feudal domain. She is a bom tyrant, and 
grows fat on it. Her appetites, many of them 
incapable of open satisfaction in our present 
society, nevertheless find devious outlets. Serv- 
ant , girls of the Gunnisons have told stories, 
but not often and then guardedly, for she is 
ruthless against those who oppose her or 
threaten her security.” 

“And Mrs. Carr? That is, if she comes in 
this category.” 

“Little can be said of her; She is conven- 
tional, an indulgent^ ruler of her ^husband, and 
enjoys being thought sweet and saintly- But 
I am uncertain of her deeper motivations.” 

“It may be then, that she is not hostile?” 
He was remembering the telephone call from 
Mrs. Carr just before he left for the East, when 
she had" seemed to be trying to check on the 
activities of Evelyn Sawtelle. 

“It may be. Yet at times I have been aware 
of her looking at me long and strangely.” . 

There was a knock. It was the porter come 
for the bags. 

“Be in Hempnell in five minutes, sir. Shall 
I brush you in the corridor?” 

But Norman tipped him and declined the 
service. He also told him they would carry 
their own bags. The porter smiled jerkily and 
backed out. 

Norman crossed to the forward window. 
There was only the gravel wall of a gully, and, 
above it, dark trees flashing indistinctly past. 
But almost immediately the gravel wall gave 
way to a wide panorama, as the tracks swung 
around and down the hillside. 

There was more woodland than field in the 
valley. The trees seemed to encroach on the 
town, dwarfing it. From this particular point 
it looked quite tiny. But the college buildings 
stood out with a cold distinctness. He fancied 
he could make out the window of his office. 

Those cold gray towers and darker roofs were 
like an intrusion from some other, older world, 
and his heart began to pound, as if he had 
suddenly sighted the fortress of the enemy. 



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XIII. 



Norman looked briefly across the campus 
before he went into Morton. The thing that 
startled him most was something he had not 
expected — the air of normality.. True, he had 
not looked forward — at least consciously — to 
any outwardly demoniac manifestations, any 
physical stench of evil. But this feeling of 
wholesomeness — the little swarms of students 
trooping back to the dormitories or over to the 
campus soda fountain, the file of girls in white 
bound for a tennis lesson, the friendly smiles 
and nods, the way his own steps fell so easily 
and gratefully into the old familiar paths — 
almost for a moment he wondered if everything 
else were not some crazy dream. It came to 
him almost with a shock that things were out- 
wardly as normal as they had ever been, that 
only with respect to himself had they changed. 

“Don't fool yourself," the voice inside told 
him. “Some of those laughing girls are already 
infected. Their very respectable mammas have 
given them delicate hints. Don't be too sure 
you know what they’re thinking while they sip 
their cokes or chatter about their boy friends." 



But there was much to be done this after- 
noon, and he had no right to waste a second. 
He turned into Morton and quickly mounted 
the stairs. 

His capacity for surprise was not yet ex- 
hausted, however, as he realized when he saw 
a group of students emerging from the class- 
room at the other end of the third-floor cor- 
ridor, after having waited the usual ten min- 
utes for him to appear. That was right — he 
had classes, and committee meetings, and ap- 
pointments. He slipped around the bend in 
the corridor before he was noticed. 

Taking suitable precautions, he entered his 
office. Nothing seemed to have been disturbed, 
but he was careful in his movements and on 
the alert for unfamiliar objects. He did not put _ 
his hand into any drawer without closely in- 
specting it first. 

One letter in the little pile of accumulated 
mail was important. It was from Pollard’s 
office, requesting him to appear before a meet- 
ing of the trustees later this week. He smiled 
with grim satisfaction. His career was still 
skidding downhill. Hempnell still had its fangs. 

He methodically removed certain sections 




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from his files, stuffed his brief case full and 
made a package of the remainder. 

Then he took from his pocket a small hard 
object, and looked at it reflectively. 

It was made of lucite, and its shape was 
that of an egg. Sealed inside the thick, trans- 
parent shell were tiny bits of metal and fiber. 
It -was the chief trophy of his stay in New 
York. His friend in industrial chemistry had 
been very mystified. But here it was. 

Placed in the Sawtelle home, it ought to con- 
stitute the terminal of a kind of circuit and 
clear the way for the operations he intended 
to begin tonight, for the recovery of that which 
Evelyn Sawtelle had taken and was holding 
captive. 

It remained to place it. 

After a last glance around, during which he 
noted that the Estrey dragon had not been 
restored to whatever was its original position 
on the roof, he started downstairs. 

Outside he met Mrs. Gunnison. 

This was something he had not anticipated 
with sufficient vividness. He was acutely con- 
scious of the way his arms were encumbered 
by the bulky notes. For a moment he did not 
seem able to see her clearly. ^ 

“Lucky I found you,” she began immedi- 
ately. .“Harold’s been trying every which way 
to get in touch with you. Where have you 
been?” 

Suddenly she registered on him as her old, 
blunt, sloppy self. With a sense of mingled 
relief and frustration, he realized that the war- 
fare in which he was engaged was a strictly 
undercover affair, and that outwardly all re- 
lationships were the same as ever. He found 
himself explaining how Tansy and he, week- 
ending with friends out in the 'country, had 
gotten a touch of food poisoning, and how his 
message to Hempnell must have gone astray. 
This explanation was intended merely for . gen- 
eral consumption. Routine excuses were still 
necessary, and this one had the added ad- 
' vantage of providing a reason for Tansy’s ap- 
pearance, if anyone should see her, and it 
would enable him to plead a recurrence of the 
attack as an excuse for neglecting his academic 
duties. 

He did not expect Mrs. Gunnison to believe 
it, but he ought to tell it to her just to be con- 
sistent. V 

She accepted the story without comment, 
offered her sympathies, and went on to say, 
“But be sure and get in touch with Harold. 
I believe it has to do with that meeting of the 



trustees you’ve been asked to attend. You 
know, Harold thinks a great deal of you. 
Good-by.” 

Odd, but at the last moment he fancied he 
caught a note of genuine friendliness, a strange 
little look, as if .she was appealing to him to 
do something. Could he possibly be wrong in 
his estimation of her? 

But there was work to do. Off campus, he 
hurried down a quiet side street to where his 
car was parked. With hardly a sidewise glance 
at the motionless figure in the front seat, he 
stepped in and drove to Sawtelle’s. 

The house was bigger than they needed, and 
the front lawn was very formal. But the grass 
was yellow in patches, and the soldierlike rows 
of flowers looked neglected. 

“Wait here,” he said. “Don’t get out of the 
car under any circumstances.” 

To his surprise, Hervey met him at the door. 
There were circles under Hervey’s always- 
worried eyes, and his fidgetiness was more than 
usually apparent. 

“I’m so glad you’ve come,” he said, pulling 
s Norman inside. “I don’t know what I’m going 
to do with all these departmental responsibili- 
ties on my shoulders! Classes having to be 
dismissed. Stop-gap instructors to be obtained. 
And the deadline on next year’s catalogue to- 
morrow! Here, come into my study.” And he 
pushed Norman through a huge living room, 
expensively but stiffly furnished, into a dingy, 
book-lined cubbyhole with one small window. 

“I’m almost going out of my mind,” he said. 
“I haven’t dared stir out of the house since 
Evelyn was attacked Sunday night.” 

“What!” 

“Haven’t you heard?” He stopped and 
looked at Norman in surprise. Even here he 
had been trying to pace up and down,. although 
there was not room enough. “Why, it was in 
the papers. Though I wondered why you 
didn’t come over or call up. I kept trying to 
get you at your home and the office, but no 
one could locate you. Evelyn’s been in bed 
since 'Sunday, and she gets hysterical if I even 
speak of going out of the house. Just now 
she’s asleep, thank heavens.” 

It was borne in on Norman that Sawtelle 
was not even - , aware that he had been out of 
town. Hastily he related his trumped-up ex- 
cuse. He wanted to get back to what had 
happened Sunday night. There was an idea 
forming at the back of his mind, but. it was 
still nebulous. For the moment he neglected 



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the real purpose of his visit. 

“Just my luck!” Sawtelle exclaimed tragi- 
cally when Norman had finished. “The whole 
department falling apart the very first week 
I’m in charge of it. And voting Stackpoole laid 
up with the ‘flu’!” 

“We’ll manage,” said Norman. “Sit down 
and tell me about Evelyn.” 

Unwillingly, Sawtelle cleared a space so he 
could perch on the cluttered desk. He groaned 
audibly when his eyes chanced to light on 
papers concerned with urgent business. 

“It happened about four o’clock Sunday 
morning,” he began, still aimlessly fiddling with 
the papers. “I was awakened by a terrible 
scream. Evelyn’s bed was empty. It was 
pitch dark out in the hall. But I could hear 
some sort of struggle going on downstairs. A 
bumping and threshing around—” 

Suddenly he jerked up his head. “What was 
that? I thought I heard footsteps out in the 
front hall.” Before Norman could say any- 
thing he went on, “Oh, it’s just my nerves. 
They’ve been acting up ever since. 

“Well, I picked up something — a vase — and 
went downstairs. About that time the sounds 
stopped. I switched on the lights and went 
through all the rooms. In the sewing room 
I found Evelyn stretched unconscious on the 
floor with some ghastly bruises beginning to 
show around her neck and mouth. Beside her 
lay the phone — we have it there because Evelyn 
has so many occasions to use it. I nearly went 
frantic. I called a doctor and the police.” 
Norman knew now what must have hap- 
pened. 

“When Evelyn regained consciousness, she 
was able to tell us about it, although she was 
terribly shaken up. It seems the phone had 
rung. She went downstairs in the dark with- 
out waking me. Just as she was picking up 
the phone, a man jumped out of the comer 
and attacked her. She fought him off — oh, it 
drives me mad to think of it! — but he over- 
powered her and choked her unconscious.” 
Norman listened with grim satisfaction. 
“Thank heavens I came downstairs when I 
did! That must have been what frightened 
him off. The doctor found that, except for 
bruises, there weren’t any other injuries. Even 
the doctor was shocked at those bruises, though. 
He said he had never seen any quite like them. 

“The police think that after the man got in 
the house he called Central and asked them 
to ring this phone — pretending he thought the 
bell was out of order or something — in order 



to lure someone downstairs. They were puz- 
zled as to how he got inside, though, for all 
the windows and doors were shut fast. Prob- 
ably I forgot to lock the front door when we 
went to bed — one of my pieces of unforgivable 
carelessness! 

“The police think that he was a vicious bur- 
glar, but I believe he must have been a madman 
besides. Because there was a silver plate on 
the floor, and two of our silver forks jammed 
together strangely, and other odds and ends. 
And he must have been playing the phono- 
graph in the sewing room, because it was open 
and the turntable was going and on the floor 
was one of Evelyn’s speech records, smashed to 
bits.” 

Yes, the picture was all very clear now. 
What Norman had forgotten to take into con- 
sideration was the ever-present possibility of 
reaction, if magic miscarried — “like the kick 
of a gun/' or, better like the breech of a gun 
blowing up. When he had severed the wire at 
Bayport, the thwarted Agency of Death' had 
instantly struck back at the sender. And after- 
ward Evelyn Sawtelle had invented the obvious 
story. 

One thing bothered him. If the police should 
trace that phone call in an effort to prove their 
own theory, they would find it had been placed 
by Norman Saylor, at Bayport. But at the 
worst that would only convict him of a peculiar 
lie. For the present he would say nothing 
about it. 

“It's all my fault/’ Sawtelle was repeating 
mournfully. Norman remembered that Saw- 
telle always assumed that he was guilty when- 
ever anything hurt or merely upset Evelyn. “I 
should have awakened! 1 should have been 
the one to go down to the phone. When I 
think of that delicate creature feeling her way 
through the dark, and lurking just ahead of 
her that — Oh, and the department! I tell 
you I’m going out of my mind. Poor Evelyn 
has been in such a pitifully frightened state ever 
since, you wouldn’t believe it!” 

“Good,” thought Norman. “If she’s really 
frightened, she may be easier to deal with.” 
The idea of pity never occurred to him. More- 
over, if what he had been told about the lodg- 
ment of captive souls were true, then Tansy’s 
soul had suffered equally with that of Evelyn 
Sawtelle here in this very house on Sunday 
night. 

“I tell you, I haven’t slept a wink,” Sawtelle 
was saying. “If Mrs. Gunnison hadn’t been 



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kind enough to spend a couple of hours with 
her yesterday morning, I don't know how I'd 
have managed. Even then she was too fright- 
ened to let me stir. . .. My God! . . . Evelyn!" 

But it was really impossible to identify the 
agonized scream, except that it had come from 
the upper part of the house. Crying out, “I 
knew I heard footsteps! He’s come back!" 
Sawtelle ran full tilt out of the study. Norman 
was just behind him, suddenly conscious of a 
-very different fear. It was confirmed by a 
glance through the living-room window at his 
empty car. 

He beat Sawtelle up the stairs and was the 
first to reach the bedroom door. He stopped. 
Sawtelle, almost gibbering with anxiety and 
guilt, ran into him. 

It- was not at all what Norman expected. 

The pink silk coverlet clutched around her, 
Evelyn Sawtelle had retreated to the side of 
the bed nearest the wall. Her teeth were chat- 
tering, and her face was a dirty white. * 

Beside the bed stood Tansy. For a moment 
Norman felt a great, sudden hope. Then he 
saw her eyes, and the hope shot away with 
sickening swiftness. IShe was not wearing the 
veil. In that heavy make-up, with those 
rouged cheeks and thickly carmined lips, she 
looked like some indecently daubed statue, 
impossibly grotesque against that background 
of ridiculously feminine pink silk hangings. 
But a hungry statue. 

Sawtelle scrambled past him, shouting, 
“What’s happened? What’s happened?" He 
saw Tansy. “I didn’t know you were here. 
When did you come in?" Then, “You fright- 
ened her!" 

The statue spoke, and its quiet accents 
hushed him. ✓ • 

“Oh, no, I didn’t frighten her. Did I, 
Evelyn?" 

Evelyn Sawtelle was staring at Tansy in 
abject, wide-eyed terror, and her jaw was still 
shaking. But-when she spoke, it was to say, 
“No, Tansy didn’t ... frighten me. We were 
talking together .. . . and then .... I . I 
thought I heard a noise," 

“Just a noise, dear?" Sawtelle said, some- 
what taken aback. < 

“Yes . . .. like footsteps . .-very quiet foot- 
steps in the hall." She did not take her eyes 
off Tansy, who nodded once when she had 
finished. 

Norman accompanied Sawtelle on a futile 
search of the top floor. When they came back, 
Evelyn was alone. 



“Tansy's gone out to the car," she told Nor- 
man weakly. “I'm sure I just imagined those 
footsteps." 

But her eyes were still full of fear when he 
lefther, with Sawtelle fussing about straighten- 
ing the coverlet and shaking out the pillows. 

As he went down the stairs he became aware 
of a hard object in his pocket, and he remem- 
bered the Incite egg. He had not placed it. 
But, as things stood now, he must first know 
more. 

Tansy was sitting in the car, staring ahead. 
He could see that the body was still dominated 
by its one emotion. He did have to ask a 
question. 

“She does not have my soul," were the 
words. “I questioned her at length. As a final 
and certain test I embraced her. That was 
when she screamed. She is very much afraid 
of the dead." 

“What did she tell you?" , 

“She said that someone came and took my 
soul from her. Someone who did not trust her 
very much. Someone who desired my soul, to 
keep as a hostage and for other reasons. Mrs. 
Gunnison." 

And he had seen it and not known. The 
knuckles of his hands were white on the steer- 
ing wheel. That puzzling look of appeal that 
Mrs. Gunnison had given him. For an instant 
Tansy had managed to look out of her eyes. 
And he had not known it. 

XXV. 

Professor Garr finished his inspection of the 
first of the five sheets. 

“Yes," he said, “these are undoubtedly equa- 
tions in symbolic logic." 

Norman had been pretty sure they were, 
but he was glad to hear a mathematician say 
so. The hurried reference he had made to Prin- 
(d'pia Mathematics had not altogether satisfied 
him. 

“The capitals stand for classes of entities, the 
lower case letter for relationships," he said 
helpfully. j 

“Ah . . . yes — ** Professor Carr’s voice be- 
came a trifle diffident, and he rubbed his chin 
beneath the white Vandyke. “But what do 
they . . . refer to ... if I may ask?" 

“You could perform operations on the equa- 
tions, couldn’t you, without knowing the refer- 
ences of the individual symbols?" Norman 
countered. 

' “Most certainly. And the results would be 



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valid — always providing that the original refer- 
ences had been made correctly/’ 

“Then here’s my problem,” Norman went on 
hastily. “There are seventeen equations on 
that first sheet. As they stand, they are not 
consistent with each other. Now I’m wonder-, 
ing if one simple, underlying equation doesn’t 
appear in each of the seventeen, jumbled up 
with a lot of nonessential terms and meaning- 
less procedures. Each of the other sheets pre- 
sents a similar problem.” 

“Hm-m-m — ” Professor Carr began to fin- 
ger a pencil, and his eyes started to go back 
to the intriguing sheet, but he checked the 
movement. “I must confess I’m rather curious 
about those references,” he said, and added 
innocently, “I wasn’t aware that there had been 
attempts to apply symbolic logic to sociology.” 
Norman was prepared for this. “I’ll be frank 
with you, Linthicum,” he said. “I have a 
pretty wild, off-trail theory, and I’ve promised 
myself I won’t discuss it until I have a better 
idea of whether or not there’s anything to it.” 
Carr’s face broke into a reminiscent smile. 
“I think I understand your sentiments,” he 
said. “I can still recall the disastrous con- 
sequences of my announcement that I had tri- 
sected the angle. 

“Of course, I was only in high school at the 
time,” he added hastily. 

“Though I’m still convinced that I gave my 
teacher a bad half-hour,” he finished with a 
touch of pride. 

When he next spoke, there was a sly twinkle 
in his eyes. “Nevertheless, I’m very much 
piqued by those symbols. As it stands, they 
might refer . . . hm-m-m ... to anything.” 
“I’m sorry,” said Norman. “I know I’m ask- 
ing a lot of you.” 

“Not at all. Not at all.” Twiddling the 
pencil Carr glanced again at the sheet. Some- 
thing seemed to catch his eyes. “Hm-m-m . . . 
this is very interesting,” he said. “I hadn’t 
noticed this before.” And his pencil began to 
fly about the sheet, deftly striking out terms, 
neatly inscribing new equations. The single 
vertical furrow between his gray eyebrows 
deepened. In a moment he was wholly ab- 
sorbed. 

With an unbreathed sigh of relief, Norman 
leaned back. He felt dog-tired, and his eyes 
hurt. Those five sheets represented twenty 
hours of uninterrupted work. Tuesday night, 
Wednesday morning, part of Wednesday after- 
noon. Even at that he couldn’t have done it 
without Tansy to take notes from his dictation. 



He trusted the accuracy of her mindless 
neurons more than those of a, conscious person. 

The agile old fingers had half filled a fresh 
sheet of paper with derived equations. Their 
swift, orderly movements did not disturb but 
rather intensified the quiet almost monastic, 
mathematical atmosphere of the small office. 

If Mrs. Gunnison had not shown herself to 
be so resourceful, he was thinking, he might 
have managed without using symbolic logic 
and Carr. But she was ho Evelyn Sawtelle, to 
strike out viciously and then collapse. No, her 
competence and coolness under fire were of 
quite a different sort. She had become very 
elusive, and he had even been balked in the 
simple job of secretly planting a certain object 
in her home. And even if he had managed, 
he was doubtful whether he would have suc- 
ceeded with the rest of the plan. Something 
of a decidedly stronger sort was necessary. 
Something new. Something basic; 

Carr shoved a paper toward him, and im- 
mediately started working on the next sheet. 

“You’ve found the underlying equation?” 

Carr seemed almost annoyed at the inter- 
ruption. “Surely ... of course.” His pencil 
was once more darting about. 

“Sorry to be making all this work for you,” 
said Norman, wondering just what was the 
meaning of the brief ultimate equation. He 
could not tell without his code. 

Carr spared him a glance. “Not at all. I’m 
enjoying it. I always did have a knack for 
these things, though it’s not exactly my field.” 
And then he was busy again. 

The afternoon shadows deepened. Norman 
switched on the overhead light, and Carr 
thanked him with a quick, preoccupied nod. 
The pencil flew. Three more sheets had been 
shoved across to Norman, and Carr was finish- 
ing the last one, when the door opened. 

“Linthicum!” came the sweet voice, with 
hardly a trace of reproachfulness. “Whatever’s 
keeping you? I’ve waited downstairs fifteen 
minutes.” 

“I’m sorry, dear,” said the old man, looking 
at his watch and his wife. “But I had become 
so absorbed — ” 

She saw Norman. “Oh, I didn’t know you 
had a visitor,” she said. “ Whatever will Pro- 
fessor Saylor think! I’m afraid that I’ve given 
him the impression that I tyrannize over you.” 

And she accompanied the words with such a 
quaint smile that Norman found himself echo- 
ing Carr’s “Not at all.” 



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“Professor Saylor looks dead tired,” she said, with a kind of roguish indulgence, “he made 
peering at Norman anxiously. “I hope you -all sorts of tabulations on horse races." 
haven’t been wearing him out, Linthicum .’’ “Er . . . yes . . . but only as a concrete ex- 

“Oh, no, my dear, I’ve been doing all the ample of the calculus of probabilities,” Mr. 
work,” her husband told her. Carr interposed quickly. But his smile was 

She walked around the desk and looked over equally indulgent, 
his shoulder. “What is it?” she asked, pleas- Her hand was on his shoulder, and he had 
antly. reached up his own to cover hers. Frail, yet 

- “I don’t know,” he .said. He straightened somehow hearty, withered, yet somehow fresh, 
up and, winking at Norman, went on, “I be- they seemed like the perfect aged couple, 
lieve that, behind these symbols. Professor “I promise you,” Norman told Carr, “that if 
Saylor is revolutionizing the science of sociol- I revolutionize the science of sociology, you'll 
ogy. But it’s a great secret. And in any case be the first to hear of it.” 

I haven’t the slightest idea of what the sym- 
bols refer to. I’m just being a comptometer.” As soon as he was home, Norman got out the 

With a polite, by-your-leave nod toward code. “FF”_was the identifying letter at the 

Norman, Mrs. Carr picked up one of the top of the first sheet.. He thought he remem- 
sheets and studied it through her thick glasses, bered what that meant, but he looked it up 

But when she saw the massed rows of symbols, just to be sure. . 

she put it down. “W — To conjure out the soul.” 

“Mathematics is not my forte,” she ex- Yes, that was it. He turned to the supple- 
plained. “I was such a poor scholar.” mentary sheet covered with Carr’s calculations, 

“Nonsense, Flora,” said Carr. “Whenever and carefully decoded the final equation. “C — 
we go to the market, you’re much quicker at Notched strip of copper.” He nodded. “T — • 
totaling the bill than I am. And I try to beat Twirl sunwise.” He frowned. He would have 
you, too.”- • - expected them to Cancel out. Good thing he’d 

“But that’s such a little thing,” cooed Mrs. gotten a mathematician’s help in simplifying 
Carr delightedly. . the seventeen equations, each representing a 

" “I’ll only be a moment more,” said her bus- different people’s formula for conjuring out the 
band, returning to his calculations. soul — Arabian, , Zulu, Polynesian, American 

Mrs. Carr spoke across to Norman in a half- -Negro, American Indian, and so on; the most 
whisper/ “Oh, Professor Saylor, would you be recent formulas available, and ones that had 
so kind as to convey a message to Tansy? I known actual use. . 

want to invite her for bridge tomorrow night — . "A — Deadly amanita.” Bother! He’d 

that’s Thursday — with Hulda Gunnison and been certain that one would cancel out. It 
Evelyn Sawtelle. Linthicum has a meeting." would be a bit of time and trouble getting a 
“I’ll be glad to,” said Norman quickly. “But deathcup mushroom. And there was another 
I’m afraid she -might not be up to it.”- And he even more difficult item. Well, he could man- 
explained about the food poisoning.. age without that formula, if he had to. He 

“How too, too ternbleC observed Mrs. Carr, took up two other sheets — "V — To control 
“Couldn’t I come over and help her?” the soul of another,” “Z— - To cause the dwell- 

“Thank you,” Norman lied, “but we have ers in a house to sleep” — and set to work on 
someone staying with her.” one of them. In a few minutes he had assured 

“How; wise,” said Mrs. Carr, and it sounded himself that the ingredients presented no spe- 
&s if she really meant it. cial difficulties, save that Z required a Hand of 

Carr put down his pencil. “There,” he said, Glory to be used as well as the graveyard dirt 
“I’m done.” to be thrown onto the roof of the house in 

With further expressions of thanks, Norman which sleep was- to be enforced. But he ought 
gathered up the sheets. to have little difficulty in filching a suitable 

“Really no trouble, at all,” Carr assured severed hand from the anatomy lab. Now he 
him. “You gave me a very exciting afternoon.” was getting somewhere. With Z he could place 
He added wistfully. “I must confess that the charm in the Gunnison house tomorrow 
you’ve aroused my curiosity.” night, and with V activate it. 

“Linthicum dotes on anything mathemati- Conscious of a sudden reaction of weariness, 
cal, especially when it’s like a puzzle,” Mrs. he pushed back his chair. For the first time 
Carr told him. “Why, once,” she continued, since he had come into the house, he looked 



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at her. She sat in the rocking chair, face 
turned toward the drawn curtains. When she 
had started rocking, he did not know. But 
the muscles of her body automatically con- 
tinued the rhythmical movement, once it had 
begun. 

With the suddenness of a blow, longing for 
Tansy struck him. Her intonations, her ges- 
tures, her mannerisms, her funny fancies — all 
the little things that go to make a person real, 
and human, and loved — he wanted them all 
instantly; and the presence of this dead-alive 
imitation, this poor husk of Tansy, only made 
the longing less bearable. And what sort of a 
man was he, to be puttering around with oc- 
cult formulas, while all the while he — “There 
are things that can be done to a soul,” she 
had said. “Servant girls of the Gunnisons have 
told stories — ” He ought to go up there and 
take by force what was his! 

The reaction was immediate. How could 
you take by force what was without form or 
material being? How could you use open force 
against someone who had your dearest posses- 
sion as a hostage? 

No, these repugnant occult formulas were 
his only hope, and he had gotten his usual 
punishment for making the mistake of looking 
at her. Deliberately he moved to the other 
side of the table, so his back was to the rocking 
chair. 

But he was restless, his muscles itching with 
fatigue poisons, and for the moment, he could 
not get back to the work. All sorts of ques- 
tions were plaguing his mind. 

Suddenly Norman spoke. “Why do you 
suppose everything has become violent and 
deadly so abruptly?” 

“What I believe they call the Balance was 
upset,” was the answer. There was no inter- 
ruption in the steady rocking. 

“How was that?” He started to look over 
the back of his chair, but checked himself in 
time. 

“It happened when I ceased to practice 
magic.” The rocking was a grating monotony. 

“But why should that lead to violence?” 

“It upset the Balance.” 

“Yes, but how can that explain the abrupt- 
ness of the shift from relatively trivial attacks 
to a deadly maliciousness?” 

The rocking had stopped. There was no an- 
swer. But, as he told himself, he knew the 
answer already. This women’s warfare was 
very much like trench warfare or a battle be- 



tween fortified lines — a state of siege. Just as 
thick, reinforced concrete or armor plating 
nullified the shells, so countercharms and pro- 
tective procedures rendered relatively futile the 
most violent onslaughts. But once the armor 
and concrete were gone, and you were out in 
a kind of no man’s land — 

Then, too, fear of the savage counterattacks , 
that could be launched, from such highly forti- 
fied positions, was a potent factor in discourag- 
ing direct assaults. The natural thing would be 
to sit pat, snipe away, and only attack if the 
enemy exposed himself recklessly. Besides, 
there were probably all sorts of unsuspected 
hostages and secret agreements, all putting a 
damper on violence. 

This idea also seemed to explain why Tansy’s 
apparently pacific action had upset the Bal- 
ance. What would any country think if in the 
midst of a war, its enemy scuttled all his bat- 
tleships and dismantled all his aircraft, appa- 
rently laying himself wide open to attack? 
For the realistic mind, there could only be one 
likely answer. Namely, that the enemy had 
discovered a weapon far more potent than 
battleships or aircraft, and was planning to 
ask for a peace that would turn out to be a trap. 
The only thing would be to strike instantly 
and hard, before the secret weapon could be 
brought into play. 

“I think — ” he started to say. 

Then something — perhaps a faint whisking 
in the air or a slight creaking of the floor under 
the heavy carpet, or some less tangible sensa- 
tion — caused him to glance around. 

With a writhing jerk sideways, he managed 
- — just managed — to get his head out of the 
path of that descending metal flail, which was 
all he saw at first. With a shocking swish it ~ 
crashed downward against the heavy back of 
the chair, and there its force was broken. But 
his shoulder, which took only the end of the 
blow, went numb. 

Clawing at the chair arm with his good hand, 
he threw himself forward against the table and 
whirled around. 

He recoiled from the sight as from another 
blow, throwing back his good hand to save 
himself from overbalancing. , 

She was poised in the center of the room, 
having sprung back catlike after the first blow 
failed. Almost stiff-legged, but with the weight 
forward. In stocking feet — the slippers that 
might have made a noise were laid by the 
rocking chair. In her hand was the steel poker, 
stealthily lifted from the stand by the fireplace, 



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so as not to make the slightest warning rattle. 

There was life in her face now. But it was 
life that champed the teeth and drooled, life 
that pinched and flared the nostrils with every 
breath, life that switched hair from the eyes 
with quick, angry flirts, life that glared redly 
and steadily. And there was more than that. 

With a low snarl jshe lifted the poker and 
struck, not at him, but at the chandelier over- 
head. Yet, even as pitch darkness flooded the 
tightly curtained room, he realized what that 
more-than- animal life was. 

There was no one conclusive reason, but 
from a multitude of almost indefinable im- 
pressions — too many to be realized separately 
— he knew with chilling certainty that the 
bestial spirit animating Tansy’s body, the crude 
and unfinished soul conjured into her body — 
possessing her body as it used to be said demons 
possessed the bodies of the insane — was the 
same soul that had animated. the stone creature 
that had crept from the roof. 

And then the darkness was complete. \ 

There was a rush of 'soft footsteps. He 
ducked to one side. Nevertheless, the stvish 
came perilously close. There was a sound as 
if she had dived or rolled across the table after 
he eluded the headlong rush — he could hear 
the slur of papers skidding and the faint crackle 
as some drifted to the floor. Then silence,, except 
for the rapid muff -snuff of animal breathing. 

He crouched on the carpet, trying not to 
move a muscle, straining his ears to catch the 
direction of that breathing. Abominable, he 
thought, how inefficient the human auditory 
system is at localizing a sound. First it came 
from one direction, then another — although he 
could not hear the slightest rustle of interven- 
ing movement — until he began to lose his sense 
of orientation in the room. He tried to remem- 
ber his exact movements in springing away 
from the table. As he had hit the carpet, he 
had spun around. But how far? Was he fac- 
ing toward or away from the wall? In his zeal 
to avoid the possibility of anyone spying on 
Tansy, he had blacked out this room and the 
bedroom, and the blackout was effective. No 
discernible atom of light filtered through from 
the night outside. He was somewhere on what 
was beginning to seem an endless expanse of 
carpet. 

And somewhere else on that expanse, it was. 
Could it see and hear more than he? Could it 
discern form in retinal patterns that were only 
blackness to Tansy’s human soul? What was 



it waiting for? Now even the rapid breathing 
was no longer audible — it possessed cunning. 

This might be the darkness of some jungle 
floor, roofed by yards of matted creepers. 
Civilization is a thing of light. When light 
goes, civilization is snuffed out. He was 
rapidly being reduced to its level. Perhaps it 
had counted on that when it smashed the 
lights. This might be the inner chamber of 
some primeval cave, and he some cloudy- 
minded primitive huddled in abject terror of 
his mate, into whose beloved form a demon 
had been conjured up by the witch woman — 
the brawny, fat witch woman with the sullen 
lip and brutish eyes, and copper ornaments 
twisted in matted red hair. Should he grope 
for his ax and seek to smash the demon from 
her skull where it was hiding? Or should he 
seek out the witch woman and throttle her 
until she called off her demon? But how could 
he constrain his wife meanwhile? If the tribe 
found her, they would slay her instantly— it 
was the law. And even now the demon in her 
was seeking to slay him. f 

With thoughts almost as murky and con- 
fused as those of that ghostly primitive fore- 
runner, he sought to grapple with the problem, 
until he suddenly realized what it was waiting 
for. 

Already his muscles were aching. He was 
getting twinges of pain from his shoulder, as 
the numbness went out of it. Soon he would 
make an involuntary movement. And in that 
instant it would be upon him. 

Cautiously he stretched out his hand. Slowly 
— very slowly — he swung it around until it 
touched- a small table. and located the large 
book he had remembered was there. Clamping 
thumb and fingers around the book where it 
projected from the table edge, he lifted it and 
drew it to him. His muscles began to shake 
a little from the effort to maintain absolute 
quiet. 

With a slow movement he launched the book 
toward the center of the room, so that it hit 
the carpet a few feet from him. The sound 
drew the instant response he had hoped for. 
Waiting a second, he dove forward, seeking' 
to pin it to the floor. But its cunning was 
greater than he had guessed. His arms closed 
on a heavy cushion that it had hurled toward 
the book, and only luck saved him as the poker 
thudded against .the carpet close by his head. 

Clutching out blindly, his hands closed on 
the cold metal. There was a moment of strain- 



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ing as it sought to break his grip* Then he 
was sprawling backward, and the footsteps 
were retreating toward the rear of the house. 

He followed it to the kitchen. A drawer, 
jerked out too far, fell to the floor, and he 
heard the chilling clatter and scrape of cutlery. 

But there was enough light in the kitchen 
to show him its silhouette. He lunged at the 
upraised hand holding the long knife, caught 
the wrist. Then it threw itself against him, 
and they dropped to the floor. 

He felt her warm body against his, the toucn 
of it an instant check to violence. He dared 
not harm it, and yet viciousness animated it to 
the last limits of its strength. For a moment 
he felt the coldness of the flat of the knife 
against his cheek, then he had forced the 
weapon away. He doubled up his legs to 
protect himself from its knees. It surged con- 
vulsively down upon him and he felt jaws 
clamp the arm with which he held away the 
knife. Teeth sawed sideways, trying to pene- 
trate the fabric of his coat. Cloth ripped as 
he sought with his free hand to drag her body 
away from him. Then he found her hair and 
forced back the head so the teeth lost their grip. 
It dropped the knife and clawed with both 
hands at his face. He seized the fingers seek- 
ing his eyes and nostrils; it snarled and spat 
at him. Steadily he forced down the arms, 
twisting them behind it, and with a sudden 
effort got to his knees. Strangled sounds of 
impotent fury came from its throat. 

Only too keenly aware of how close his mus- 
cles were to the trembling weakness of fatigue, 
he shifted his grip so that with one hand he 
held the straining wrists. With the other he 
groped sideways, jerked open the lower door 
of the cabinet, and found a length of cord. 

'XV. 

“It's pretty serious this time, Norm,” said 
Harold Gunnison. “A couple of trustees really 
want your scalp.” 

Norman drew his chair closer, as if the dis- 
cussion were the real reason for his visit to 
Gunnison's office this morning. 

Gunnison went on, “I think they're planning 
to rake up that Margaret van Nice business, 
and start yelping that where there's smoke 
there must be fire. And they may try to use 
Theodore Jennings against you. Claim that 
his ‘nervous breakdown' was aggravated by un- 
fairness and undue severity on your part, et 
cetera.” 



Norman nodded, Mrs. Gunnison ought to 
be here soon. The maid had told him over 
the phone that she had just left for her hus- 
band's office. 

“Of course, those two matters aren't enough 
in themselves.” Gunnison looked unusually 
heavy-eyed and grave. “But they have a bad 
taste, and they can be used as entering wedges. 
The real danger will come from a restrained 
but concerted attack on your conduct of classes, 
your public utterances, and perhaps even trivial 
details of your social life, followed by talk 
about the need for retrenchment where it is 
expeditious — you know what I mean.” He 
paused. “What really bothers me is that 
Pollard's cooled toward you. I told him just 
what I thought of Sawtelle's appointment , but 
he said the trustees had overruled him. He's a 
good man, but he's a politician.” And Gunni- 
son shrugged, as if it were common knowledge 
that the distinction between politicians and 
scientists went back to the Ice Age. 

Norman roused himseft. “I'm afraid I in- 
sulted him last week. We had a long talk and 
I blew up.” 

Gunnison shook his head. “That would ex- 
plain it. He can absorb insults. I've always 
said he was a good politician. If he sides 
against you, it will be because he feels it neces- 
sary or at least expeditious ... I hate that 
word ... on the grounds of public opinion. 
You know his way of running the college. 
Every couple of years he throws someone to 
the wolves.” 

Norman hardly heard him. He was think- 
ing of Tansy as he had left her — the trussed-up 
body, the lolling jaw, the hoarse heavy breath- 
ing from the whiskey he had finally made it 
guzzle. He was taking a long chance, but he 
daFed not give it an opportunity to carry off 
or destroy the body it had usurped. At one 
time last night he had almost decided to call 
in a doctor and perhaps have Tansy placed in 
a sanitarium. But if he did that he would be 
unable to protect her and might lose forever 
his chance to restore her rightful self. For 
similar reasons there was no friend he could 
call on for help. Now that his efforts to exor- 
cise the thing by sorcery had failed, he had to 
strike quickly at the source of the usurping 
agency. But it was not pleasant to think of 
such headlines as: “PROFESSOR'S WIFE A 
TORTURE VICTIM. FOUND TRUSSED 
IN CLOSET BY MATE.” 

“It's really serious, Norm,” Gunnison was 
repeating. “My wife thinks so, and she’s smart 



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about these things. She knows people.’ 5 

His wife! Obediently, Norman nodded. 

“Hard luck it had to come to a head now,” 
Gunnison continued, “when you’ve been having 
more than your share of troubles, with sickness 
and what-not.” Norman could see that Gunni- 
son was looking with a faint shade of inquisi- 
tiveness at the strip of surgical tape close to the 
corner of his left eye and the other one just 
below his nostrils. But he attempted no ex- 
planation. 



the truth. It would be like trying to take 
his troubles into the law courts, and he could 
imagine — with the sharp, almost hallucinatory 
vividness of extreme fatigue — what that would 
be like. Imagine, even if the thing were ex- 
orcised out of her body, putting Tansy in the 
witness box. “You say, Mrs. Saylor, that your 
soul was stolen from your body?” “Yes.” 
“You know that to be a fact?” “Yes.” “You 
are conscious of it?” “No, I am not con- 
scious.” “How% then — ” Bang of the judge’s 




Gunnison shifted about and resettled himself 
in his chair. “Norm,” he said, “I’ve got the 
feeling that something’s gone wrong. You can 
weather this blow all right — you’re one of our 
two-three best men — but I’ve got the feeling 
that something’s gone wrong all the way down 
the line.” 

The offer his words conveyed was obvious 
enough, and Norman knew it was made in 
gopd faith. But only for a moment did he 
consider telling Gunnison even a fraction of 



gavel. “If this tittering does not cease im- 
mediately, I will clear the court!” Or Mrs. 
Gunnison called to the witness box and he 
himself bursting out with an impassioned plea 
to the jury. “Gentlemen, look at her -eyes! 
Watch them closely, I implore you. My wife’s 
soul is there, if you would only see it!” Then 
the judge, harshly, “Remove the man Saylor!” 
But even such a trial was an impossibility 
in this day and age. And his method for right- 
ing the wrong that had been done must neces- 



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sarily be as far outside the law as sorcery is 
outside the domain of recognized science. 

“What’s the matter, Norm?” he heard 
Gunnison ask. The genuine sympathy of the 
voice tugged at him confusedly. Groggy with 
sudden sleepiness, he tried to rally himself to 
answer. 

Mrs. Gunnison walked in. 

“Hello,” she said. “I’m glad you two finally 
got together.” Almost patronizingly she 
looked him over. “I don’t think you’ve slept 
for the last two nights,” she announced 
brusquely. “And what’s happened to your 
face? Did that cat of yours finally scratch it?” 

Gunnison laughed, as he usually did, at his 
wife’s frankness. “What a woman! Loves 
dogs. Hates cats. But she’s right about your 
needing sleep, Norm.” 

The sight of her and the sound of her voice 
stung him into an icy wakefulness. She looked 
as if she had been sleeping ten hours a night 
for some time. An expensive green suit set off 
her red hair and gave her a kind of buxom 
middle-aged beauty. Her slip showed and the 
coat was buttoned in a disorderly way, but now 
it conveyed to Norman the effect of the privi- 
leged carelessness of some all-powerful ruler 
who is above ordinary standards of neatness. 
For once she was not carrying the usual bulg- 
ing purse. 

He did not trust himself to look into her 
eyes. 

His hand stole from his pocket to the crevice 
at the back of the chair. He pushed the lucite 
egg out of sight. Then he stood up. 

“Don’t go yet. Norm,” Gunnison told him. 
“There’s a lot we should talk about.” 

“Yes, why don’t you stay?” Mrs. Gunnison 
seconded. 

“Sorry,” said Norman. “I’ll come around 
this afternoon if you can spare the time. Or 
tomorrow morning, at the latest.” 

“Be sure and do that,” said Gunnison se- 
riously. “The trustees are meeting tomorrow 
afternoon.” 

Mrs. Gunnison sat down in the chair he had 
vacated. 

“My regards to Tansy,” she said. “I’ll be 
seeing her tonight at the Carr’s — that is, if 
she’s recovered sufficiently.” 

And to know that Tansy’s soul was listening 
to the thoughts behind those words, in com- 
plete intimacy — He walked out rapidly and 
shut the door behind him. 

While his hand was still on the knob, he saw 



Mrs. Gunnison’s green purse lying on the table 
and, beyond it, the display case of items in 
physical chemistry. In that one long moment 
he smashed the plan he had been contemplating 
and built a new one. 

There was one girl in the outer office — a 
student employee. He went up to her desk. 

. “Miss Miller,” he said, “would you be so 
kind as to get me the grade sheets on the 
following people?” And he rattled off half a 
dozen student names. 

“The sheets are in the Recorder’s Office, 
Professor Saylor,” she said, a little doubtfully. 

“I know. But you tell them I sent you. 
Dr. Gunnison and I want to look them over.” 

Obediently she took down the names. 

As the door closed behind her he pulled out 
the top drawer of her desk and found the key 
for the display case where he knew he would 
find it, on the bunch with the rest. 

A few minutes later Mrs. Gunnison came 
out. She did not see him at first, because he 
was standing to one side of the door. 

“I thought I heard you go out,” she said 
sharply. Then, in her usual blunt manner, 
“Are you waiting for me to leave, so you can 
talk to Harold alone?” 

He did not answer. He glanced at her nose, 
frowning a little. 

She picked up her purse. “There’s really 
no point in your trying to make a secret of it,” 
she said. “I know as much about your troubles 
here as he does — in fact, considerably more. 
And, to be honest, they’re pretty bad.” Her 
voice had begun to assume the arrogance of 
the victor. She smiled at him. 

He continued to look at her nose. 

“And you needn’t pretend you’re not wor- 
ried,” she went on, her voice reacting irritably 
to his silence. “Because I know you are. And 
tomorrow Pollard will ask for your resignation. 
What are you staring at?” 

“Nothing,” he answered, hastily averting his 
glance. 

“You saw a smudge on my nose!” 

“Oh, no. No.” ~ 

With an incredulous sniff, she took out her 
mirror, glanced at it puzzledly for a moment, 
then wath a shrug held it up for a detailed in- 
spection of her face. 

Now was the moment, if only he could gauge 
it right. He was taut with expectation, cold 
with a feeling that the threads of destiny had 
come into his hands. The second hand of the 
wall clock seemed to stand still. 

He dared not wait longer. In a soft yet 



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straining voice he uttered the words, “Break 
glass. Shatter soul. Scatter glass. Come 
soul " , 

With a swift crackling, not very loud, yet 
with a tinkle to it, the mirror in Mrs. Gunni- 
son’s hand puffed into a little cloud of irides- 
cent dust. 

Instantly he felt a weight add itself to his . 
mind, a tangible darkness press down upon 
his thoughts. And his mind’ seemed to' grasp 
instinctively at the darkness and hold it there. 

The gasp of astonishment or fear that issued 
from Mrs. Gunnison’s lips was cut short. What 
seemed a loose, stupid look flowed slowly over 
her face, but that was only because her face 
lost all expression whatsoever/ 

He stepped up to her and took her arm. 

“Come with me,” he said. “It’s your best 
chance.” 

Docilely she followed him into the hall. 
Near the stairs they met Miss Miller, return- 
ing with a handful of large cards. 

“I’m very sorry to have put you to the 
trouble,” he told her. “But it turned out that 
we didn’t need them. You had better return 
them to the Recorder’s Office.” 

The girl nodded with a polite but somewhat 
wry smile. Professors! 

As Norman escorted Mrs. Gunnison out of 
the Administration Building, the darkness 
pressing upon his thoughts parted — as black 
storm clouds might part at sunset, letting 
through a narrow beam of arimson light. So, 
through the painfully bright slit in the dark- 
ness lying against his thoughts, there poured 
a flood of impotent red rage, of obscene anger. 
In a moment this cleared, and an intelligible 
thought appeared. 

This thought, as the rage preceding it, was 
so intolerably like Mrs. Gunnison, such an in- 
tense concentration of what he had known only 
in diluted form, that his mind almost lost its 
hold on the dark entity pressing against it. 
For a moment his thoughts quailed at the touch 
of naked personality. He stared ahead, and 
his steps wandered like those of a drunken man. 
But only for a moment. , 

“How did you do it?” was the thought. 

His own thoughts rallied, and, before he 
realized it, had answered: 

“It was the Prince Rupert mirror from the 
display case. The warmth of your fingers 
shattered it. I held it lightly in folds of my 
kerchief while transferring it to your pocket- 
book. When the mirror breaks and the reflec- 



tion is shattered, the soul is temporarily caught 
outside. At such times it is vulnerable.” 

AH this, without the machinery of speech to 
delay it, flashed in an instant. He must be 
more cautious from now on. 

“Where are you taking my body?” 

“To our house.” 

“What do you want?” 

“My wife’s soul.” 

There was a long pause. The slit in the 
darkness closed, then opened again. 

“You cannot take it. I hold it, as you hold 
my soul. But my soul hides it from you. And 
my soul holds it.” 

“I cannot take it. But I can hold your soul 
until you return my wife’s soul to her body.” 
“What if I refuse?” 

“Your husband is a realist. He will not be- 
lieve what your body tells him. He will con- 
sult the best alienists. He will be very much 
grieved. But in the end he will commit your 
body to an asylum.” 

He could sense defeat and submission— and 
a kind of panic, too — in the texture of the an- 
swering thought. But defeat and submis- 
sion were not yet admitted directly. 

“You will not be able to hold my soul. You 
hate it. It fills you with abhorrence. Your 
mind will not be able to endure it.” 

Then, in immediate substantiation of this 
statement, there came through the slit a nasty 
trickle growing swiftly to a spate. His chief 
detestations were quickly spied out and rasped 
upon. He began to hurry his steps, so that 
the mindless hulk beside him breathed hard. 

“There was Ann,” came the thoughts, not 
in words but . in the complete fullness of 
memory. “Ann came to work for me eight 
years ago. A frail-looking little blonde, but 
able to get through a hard day’s work for all 
that. She was very submissive, and a prey 
to fear. Do you know that it is possible to 
rule people through fear alone, without an 
atom of direct force? A sharp word, a stem 
look — It’s the implications that do it, not 
what’s said directly. Gradually I gathered 
about myself all the grim prestige that father, 
teacher, and preacher had had for Ann. I 
could make' her cry by looking at her in a 
certain way. I could make her writhe with 
fright just by standing outside the door of her 
bedroom. I could make her hold hot dishes 
without a whimper while serving us at dinner, 
and make her wait while I talked to Harold, 
I’ve looked at her hands afterward — ” 



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Similarly he lived through the stories ef 
Clara and Milly, Mary and Ennengarde. He 
could not shut his own mind from hers, nor 
could he close the slit, though it was within his 
power to widen it. Like some foul medusa, 
or some pulpy carnivorous plant, her soul 
infolded and dung to his, until it seemed al- 
most that his was the prisoner. Not symbiosis, 
but parasitism. 

“And there was Trudie. Trudie worshiped 
me. She was a big girl, slow and a little stupid. 
She had come from a farm. She used to spend 
hours on my dothes. I encouraged her in 
various ways, until everything about me be- 
came sacred to Trudie. She lived for my little 
signs of favor. In the end she would do any- 
thing for me, which was very amusing, because 
she was very easily embarrassed and never 
lost her painfully acute sense of shame — ” 

But now he was at the door of his house, and 
the unclean trickle of thoughts ceased, and the 
slit narrowed to the tiniest watchful crack. 

He shepherded Mrs. Gunnison to the door 
of Tansy’s dressing room. He pointed at the 
form huddled on the blanket he had thrown 
across the floor. It lay as he had left it, eyes 
closed, jaw Lolling, breathing heavily. 

“Take away what you have conjured into it,” 
he commanded. 

There was a pause. A black spider crawled 
off Tansy’s skirt and scuttled across the blan- 
ket. Even as there came the thought, “That 
is it,” he lunged out and cracked it under his 
heel as it escaped onto the flooring. He was 
aware of a half-cloaked comment, “Its soul 
sought the nearest body. Now faithful Eng 
will go .on no more errands for me. I will have 
to find another dog.” 

“Return what you have taken,” he com- 
manded. 

This time there was a longer pause. The 
slit closed entirely. 

The bound figure stirred, as if seeking to roll 
over. The lips moved. The slack jaw tight- 
ened. Conscious only of the black weight 
against his mind, and of a sensory awareness 
so acute that he believed he could hear the 
very beating of the heart in Tansy’s body, he 
stooped and cut the lashings, removed the care- 
fully arranged paddings from wrists and ankles. 

The head rolled restlessly from side to side. 
The lips seemed to be saying, “Norman . . . 
Norman — ” The eyelids fluttered and he felt a 
shiver go over the body. And then, in one 
sudden glorious flood, like some flower bloom- 
ing miraculously in an instant, expression 



surged into the face, the limp hands caught at 
his shoulders, and from the wide-open eyes a 
lucid, sane, fearless human soul peered up at 
his. 

Not for one instant after that wonderful 
relief could his mind hold the repellent dark- 
ness pressing against it. And the swift lifting 
of that darkness was a relief almost equal to 
the first. 

With one venomous, beaten glance, Mrs. 
Gunnison turned away. He could hear her 
footsteps trail off, the front door open and 
shut. Then his arms were around Tansy and 
his lips were against hers. 

XVI. 

Urgently she pushed him away from her 
eager lips. 

“We daren’t be happy, Norm,” she said. 
“We daren’t be happy for one single moment.” 

A disturbed and apprehensive look clouded 
the longing in her eyes, as if she had become 
conscious of a great wall shutting out the sun- 
light. When she answered his unspoken ques- 
tion, it was almost in a whisper, as if even to 
mention the name might be dangerous. 

“Mrs. Carr—” 

Her hands tightened on his arms, conveying 
to him in a physical way the immediacy of 
their danger. 

“Norman, I’m frightened. I’m terribly 
frightened. For both of us. My soul has 
learned so much. Things are different from 
what I thought. And they’re much worse.” 

He took hold of her shoulders, straightened 
her up. “You’re safe,” Be told her, and there 
was a scowling strength in his face and his 
voice. “I’ve gotten you back, and I’m going 
to hold you. I’ve powers you don’t know about 
yet. They can never touch you again.” 

“Oh, Norman,” she began, dropping her 
eyes, conflicting emotions evident in her ex- 
pression, “I know how brave and clever you’ve 
been. Only I know the risks you’ve run, the 
sacrifices you’ve made for me — wrenching your 
whole life away from rationality in the bare 
space of a week, enduring of your own free 
will the beastliness of that woman’s naked 
thoughts which I was able to endure only be- 
cause I was forced to. And you have beaten 
Evelyn Sawtelle and Mrs. Gunnison fairly and 
at their own game. But Mrs, Carr — ” Her 
hands transmitted her trembling to him. “Oh, 
Norman, she only let you beat them. She 
wanted to give them a fright, and she preferred 



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to let you do it for her. That’s always her 
way. But now she’ll take a hand herself.” 

“I think you’re exaggerating,” he said slowly. 
“What you’ve gone through was enough to 
finish you a dozen times. But . . . we’ll talk 
about it. First I’ll get a drink.” 

And yet, he began to think, Tansy is not the 
sort to exaggerate. The fact that she’s gone 
through so much and come out so magnifi- 
cently, is itself a proof that she would not give 
way to unnecessary fears. He would have to 
watch himself. His physical weakness, cou- 
pled with repugnance for what he had done, 
was liable to bias his judgment and make him 
believe anything that promised peace and rest. 
He rubbed his eyes and blinked them, shaking 
his head. Relief was making him relax too 
much. He downed a stiff drink, and poured 
himself another. Better go easy with that, 
though. Up to a point it would help, but 
then it would be worse than nothing at all. 

Mrs. Carr, eh? He hadn’t paid much at- 
tention to her. He’d even wondered if she 
were concerned at all. Still, that might only 
mean exceptional cunning. And yet she seemed 
such a silly old goat. But that might be 
pretense. Tansy had been in a position to 
learn a lot. 

When he got back to the bedroom, Tansy 
had changed from her tom and creased dress 
into one of white wool, which he had always 
liked very much, but which she had not worn 
for some time. He remembered she had told 
him that it had shrunk'and become too small 
for her. But now he sensed intuitively that, in 
the joy of her return, she took a naive pride in 
her youthful body and wanted to show it to 
best advantage. 

“It’s like coming into a new house,” she 
told him, with a quick little smile that momen- 
tarily cut across her apprehensive look. “Or 
rather like coming home after you’ve been 
away for a long tinier You’re very happy, but 
everything is a little strange. It takes you a 
while to get used to it.” 

Now that she mentioned it, he realized that 
there was a kind of uncertainty about her 
movements, gestures, and- expressions, like a 
person convalescent after .a long sickness and 
just now able to get up and about. 

She had combed out her hair so that it fell 
to her shoulders, and she was still in her bare 
feet, giving her a diminutive and girlish ap- 
pearance that he found very attractive. He 

felt a growing impatience with the possible 

■ * 



dangers threatening him, although he knew 
such an attitude to be unwise. He’d smash 
anyone who tried to harm her or keep them 
apart! 

' She barely sipped her drink, and then put 
it aside. 

“Back of everything, is Mrs. Carr,” she be- 
gan abruptly. “It was she who brought Mrs. 
Gunnison and Evelyn Sawtelle together, and 
that one act speaks volumes. Women are in- 
variably secretive about their magic. They 
work alone. A little knowledge is passed from 
the elder to the younger ones, especially from 
mother to daughter, but even that is done 
grudgingly and with suspicions. This is the 
only case Mrs. Gunnison knew of — I learned 
most of this from watching her soul — in which 
three women actually co-operated. It is an 
event of revolutionary importance, betokening 
Heaven knows what for the future. Even now 
I have only an inkling of Mrs. Carr’s ambitions/ 
but they involve vast augmentation of her pres- 
ent powers. For almost three quarters of a cen- 
tury she has been weaving her plans. Her real 
age is closer to eighty than seventy.” 

Tansy’s voice was rapid, and she had grown 
pale again. Norman was listening intently. 

“She seems an innocent and rather foolish 
old lady, strait-laced yet ineffectual — but 
that’s only part of a disguise, along with her 
cooing voice and simpering manners. She’s the 
cleverest actress imaginable. Underneath she’s 
hard as nails — cold where Mrs. Gunnison would 
be hot, ascetic where Mrs. Gunnison would be 
a slave to appetites. But she has her own 
deeply hidden hungers, nevertheless. She is a 
great admirer of Puritan Massachusetts. Some- 
times I have the queerest feeling that she is 
planning, by some unimaginable means, to re- 
establish that witch-ridden, so-called theocratic 
community in this present day and age. 

“She rules the other two by fear. In a way 
they are little more than her apprentices. You 
know something of Mrs. Gunnison, so you will 
understand what it means when I say that I 
have seen Mrs. Gunnison’s thoughts go weak 
with terror because she was afraid that she 
had slightly offended Mrs. Carr.” 

Norman finished his drink. ‘His mind was 
slipping away from this new menace, fumbling 
at it instead of grasping it firmly. He must 
whip his mind awake! Tansy pushed her drink 
over toward him. 

“And Mrs. Gunnison’s fear is justified, for 
Mrs. Carr has powers so deadly that she has 



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never had to use them except as a threat. Her 
eyes are the worst. Those thick glasses of hers 
— she possesses that most feared of super- 
natural weapons, against which half the pro- 
tective charms in recorded magic are intended. 
That weapon whose name is so well known 
throughout the whole world that it has become 
a laughingstock of skeptics. The evil eye. 
With it, she can blight and wither. With it, 
she can seize control of another’s soul at a 
single glance. 

"‘So far she has held back, because she 
wanted the other two punished for certain 
trifling disobediences and put into a position 
where they would have to beg her help. But 
now she will act quickly. She recognizes in 
you and your work a danger to herself.” 
Tansy’s voice had become so breathlessly 
rapid that Norman realized she must be talk- 
ing against time. “Besides that, she has an- 
other motive buried in the darkness of her 
mind. I do not know what it is, but sometimes 
I have caught her studying my every move- 
ment and expression with the strangest avid- 
ity—” 

Suddenly she broke off and her face went 
white. 

“ — -I can feel her now ... I can feel her 
seeking me out . . . she is breaking through — 
No!” Tansy screamed. “No, you can’t make 
me do it! ... / won't! ... I won't!” Before 
he knew it, she was on her knees, clinging to 
him, clutching at his hands. “Don’t let her 
touch me, Norman,” she was babbling like a 
terrified child. “Don’t let her come near me.” 

“I won’t,” he said. 

“—oh . . . but you can’t stop her. . . . She’s 
coming here, she says, in her own body — that’s 
how much she cares for your powers! She’s 
going to take me away. ... I can’t tell you what 
she’s going to make me do — it’s too repulsi/ve” 

“If she comes here, I’ll stop her,” he said in 
a flat voice. 

Her babbling ceased. Slowly she lifted her 
white, frightened face until it looked up at his. 

“You mean — ” 

He nodded. “I’ve still got a few cartridges 
for the revolver.” His face was set. 

“Norman, I can’t let you do it . . . except — ” 

“ — that I am in as much danger as you are.” 

“Yes.” 

A semblance of control came back into 
Tansy’s face. 

“You might be able to do it,” she said softly. 
“She wouldn’t be expecting physical violence. 
But you would have to be very quick. If you 



hesitated for the tiniest instant, if you gave 
her the slightest opportunity to fix you with 
her eyes, you would be lost. She would seize 
control. You know the cobra that spits venom 
at its victim’s eyes — it’s like that.” 

Dully he tried to remember what you did 
when you committed a minder. There was 
the alibi — what would that be? And disposal 
of the body — the furnace, or he could steal 
some carboys of acid from the chem lab. What 
acid? And would it be wise to steal it? And 
then there was motive. That would be his 
strong point. The courts would not recognize 
his true motive. 

He started. Tansy was shaking him in- 
sistently. 

“Hurry, Norman. She’s very close.” 

As if in some sticky nightmare of fear and 
rage and hate, he made his preparations. The 
curtains drawn. The door barely unlatched, 
so she could push her way in. Himself in the 
dark comer of the living room. She would 
make a good target, outlined against that 
oblong of daylight. 

Suddenly Tansy slipped into his arms. Her 
body molded itself to his. Her moist lips found 
his own. Almost brutally he returned the kiss. 
He heard her whisper breathlessly, “Only be 
quick, darling. Don’t let her look at you.” 
And then she had retreated to the bedroom 
doorway. 

There were steps hurrying up the walk. His 
emotions contracted to one tight knot. He 
was conscious of the cold metal in his hand. 

The door was pushed inward. A thin form 
in gray silk was silhouetted there. Indistinctly 
he could make out beyond the sight of the gun, 
the faded face, the thick glasses. His finger 
tightened on the trigger. 

But the thick glasses were turned in his di- 
rection. And the silver-haired head gave a 
little shake. 

A dull, almost stupid look came over his face. 
His jaw sagged. 

“Quick, Norman. Quick 1” 

The gray figure in the doorway did not move. 
The gun wavered, then swung suddenly around 
until it pointed at Tansy. ’ 

“Norman!” 

XVII. 

o The small restless breezes of night stirred 
the leaves of the venerable oak standing like 
some burly guardian beside the narrow house 
of the Carrs. Through the overlapping shad- 
ows softly gleamed the white of the walls — 



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such a spotless, pristine white that neighbors £ 
laughingly vowed the old lady herself came 
out after everyone had gone to sleep and 
washed them down with a long-handled mop. 
Everywhere was the impression of neatly 
tended, wholesome age. It even had an odor — 
like some old chest which a clipper captain had 
used to bring back elegant spices from his 
voyages in the China Trade. 

The house faced the ' campus. The girls 
could see it, going to classes, and it reminded 
them of afternoons they had spent there, sit- 
ting in straight-backed chairs, all on their best 
behavior, while a wood fire burned merrily on 
the shining brass andirons in the white fire- 
place. Mrs. Carr was such a strait-laced in- 
nocent old dear! But her innocence was all 
to the good — -it was no trouble at all to pull 
the wool over her eyes. And she did tell the 
quaintest stories with the most screamingly 
funny, completely unconscious points. And 
she did serve the nicest gingerbread with her 
cinnamon tea.’ - 

A light came on in the hall, casting, a pattern 
of gentle illumination through the New Eng- 
land fanlight onto the scrollwork of the porch. 
The six-paneled white door below the fanlight 
opened. 

‘Tm going, Flora,” Mr. Carr called. “Your 
bridge partners are a. bit tardy, aren’t they?” 
“They’ll be here soon.” The silvery voice 
floated down the hall. “Good-by, Linthicum.” 
He closed the door. Too. bad he had to miss 
the bridge. But the paper they were going 
to hear on the Theory of Primes would un- 
doubtedly be interesting, and one couldn’t 
have everything. His footsteps sounded on 
the pebbly walk with its edging of tiny white 
flowers, like old lace. Then they reached the 
concrete and slowly died away. 

Somewhere at the rear of the house a car 
drew up. There was the sound of something 
being lifted, then heavy, plodding footsteps. 

A door at the back of the house opened, and 
for a moment against the oblong of light a 
man could be seen carrying in a smaller figure 
whose position suggested the presence of cer- 
tain restraints. Then that door closed, too, 
and for a while longer there was silence, while 
the breezes played with the oak leaves. 

With thriftless waste of rubber, a luxurious 
black automobile jerked to a stop in front? 
Mrs. Gunnison stepped out. 

“Hurry up, Evelyn,” she said. “You’ve 
made us late again. You know how she hates 
that.” 



“I’m coming as fast as I can,” replied her 
companion plaintively, emerging from the car. 

As soon as the six-paneled door swung open, 
the faded, spicy odor became more apparent. 

“You’re late, dears,” came the silvery, laugh- 
ing voice. “But I’ll forgive you this once, 
because I’ve a surprise for you. Come with 
me.” 

They followed the frail figure in rustling, 
faintly hissing silk into the living room. Just 
beyond the bridge table, with its embroidered 
cover and two cut-glass dishes of, sweets, stood 
Norman Saylor. In the mingled lamplight and 
firelight, his face was expressionless. 

“Since Tansy is unable to come,” said Mrs. 
Carr, “he’s agreed to make a fourth. Isn’t that 
a nice surprise? And isn’t it very nice of Pro- 
fessor Saylor?” 

Mrs. Gunnison seemed to be gathering her 
courage. “I’m not altogether sure that I like 
the arrangement,” she said finally. 

“Since when did it matter whether you liked 
.something or not?” came the answer, sharp as 
a whiplash. Mrs. Carr was standing very 
straight. “Sit down, all of you!” * 

When they had taken their places around 
the bridge table, Mrs. Carr ran through a deck, 
flipping out certain cards. When she spoke her 
voice was as sweet and silvery as ever. 

“Here are you two, my dears,” , she said, 
placing the queens of diamonds and clubs side 
by side. “And here is Professor Saylor.” She 
added the king of hearts to the group. “And 
here am I.” She placed the queen of spades 
so that it overlapped all three. “Off here to 
the side is the queen of hearts— Tansy Saylor. 
Now what I intend to do is this.” She moved 
the queen of hearts so that it exactly covered 
the queen of spades. “You don’t understand? 
Well, it isn’t what it looks like, and neither of 
you is especially bright. You’ll understand in 
a moment. Professor Saylor and I have just 
had an ever so interesting talk,” she went on. 
“All about his work. Haven’t we, Professor 
Saylor?” He nodded. “He’s made some of 
the most fascinating discoveries. It seems that 
there are laws governing the things that we 
women have been puttering with. Men are so 
clever in some ways, don’t you think? 

“He’s been good enough to tell all those laws 
to me. You’d never dream how much easier 
and safer it makes everything — and more ef- 
ficient. Efficiency is so very important these 
days. Why, already Professor Saylor has made 
something for me — I won’t tell you what it is, 



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but there’s one for each of you and one for 
someone else. They aren’t presents, because 
TU keep them all. And if one of you should do 
something naughty, they’ll make it ever so 
easy for me to whisk part of you away — you 
know what part. 

“And now something is going to happen that 
will enable Professor Saylor and I to work to- 
gether very closely in the future — how closely 
you could never imagine. You’re to help. 
That’s why you’re here. Open the dining-room 
door, Norman.” 

It was an old-fashioned sliding door, gleam- 
ing white. Slowly he pushed it aside. 

“There,” said Mrs. Carr. “My second sur- 
prise. I’m full of surprises tonight.” 

The body was lashed to a chair. From over 
the gag, the eyes of Tansy Saylor glared at 
them with impotent hate and a trapped fear. 

Evelyn Sawtelle half rose, stifling a scream. 

“You needn’t get hysterics, Evelyn,” said 
Mrs. Carr sharply. “It’s got a soul in it now.” 

Evelyn Sawtelle sank back, lips trembling. 

Mrs. Gunnison’s face had grown pale, but 
she set her jaw firmly and put her elbows on 
the table. “I don’t like it,” she said. “It’s 
too open — too risky.” 

“I am able to take chances I wouldn’t have 
taken a week ago, dear,” Mrs. Carr said 
sweetly. “In this matter your aid and Evelyn’s 
is essential to me. Of course, you’re perfectly 
welcome not to help, if you don’t want to. 
Only I do hope you understand the con- 
sequences.” 

Mrs. Gunnison dropped her eyes. “All 
right,” she said. “But let’s be quick about it.” 

“I am a very old woman,” began Mrs. Carr, 
with tantalizing slowness, “and I am very fond 
of life. It has been a little dispiriting for me 
to think that mine is drawing to a close. And, 
for reasons I think you understand, I have 
something more to fear in death than most 
persons. 

“But now it seems that I am once more 
going to experience all those things that an 
old woman looks upon as forever lost. The 
unusual circumstances of the last two weeks 
have helped a great deal, in preparing the 
ground. Professor Saylor has helped a little. 
And you, my dears, are going to help, too. 
You see, it’s necessary to build up a certain 
kind of tension, and only people with the right 
background can do that, and it takes at least 
four of them. Professor Saylor — he has such 
a brilliant mind! — tells me that it’s very much 



like building up electrical tension, so that a 
spark will be able to jump a gap. Only in this 
case the gap will be from where I am sitting 
to, there” — and she pointed at the bound 
figure. “And there will be two sparks. And 
-then, when it’s over, the queen of hearts will 
exactly cover the queen of spades. Also, the 
queen of spades will exactly cover the queen of 
hearts. But it’s the things you can’t see that 
are always the most important, don’t you 
think?” 

“You can’t do it!” said Mrs. Gunnison. “You 
won’t be able to keep the truth hidden!” 

“You think not? On the contrary, I won’t 
have to make an effort. Let me ask you what 
will happen if old Mrs. Carr claims that she 
is young Tansy Saylor. I think you know very 
well what would happen to that dear, sweet, 
innocent old lady. There are times when the 
laws and beliefs of a skeptical society can be 
so very convenient. 

“You can begin with the fire, Norman. I’ll 
tell the others exactly what they are to do.” 

He bossed a handful of powder on the fire. 
It flared up greenly, and a pungent, cloying 
aroma filled the room. 

There was a stirring at the heart of the 
world and a movement of soundless currents 
in the black void. Upon the dark side of the 
planet, a million women moved restlessly in 
their sleep, and a few woke trembling with 
unnamed fears. Upon the light side, a million 
more grew nervous, and unaccustomed day- 
dreams chased unpleasantly through their 
minds; some made mistakes at their work and 
had to add again a column of figures or tie a 
broken thread or readjust the intricate mechan- 
ism of a fuse or detonators; and a few found 
strange suspicion growing mushroomlike among 
their thoughts. A certain ponderous point be- 
gan to work closer and closer to the end of 
the massive surface supporting it, not unlike 
a top slowly wobbling toward the edge of a 
table, and certain creatures who were nearby 
saw what was happening and skittered away 
terrified through the blackness. Then, at the 
very edge, it paused. The irregularity went 
out of its movement, and it rode steady and 
true once more. The currents ceased to trou- 
ble the void, and the Balance was restored. 

Norman Saylor opened the windows at top 
and bottom so the breeze might fan out the 
remnants of pungent vapor. Then he cut the 
lashings of the bound figure and loosened the 
gag from its mouth. In a little while, she 



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rose, and without a word they started from the 
room. 

All this while, none of the others had spoken. 
The figure in the gray silk dress sat with head 
bowed, shoulders hunched dejectedly, frail 
hands dropped limply at her side. 

In the doorway; the woman whom Norman 
Saylor had loosed turned back. 

“I have only one more thing to say to you. 
All that I told you earlier this evening was 
completely true— including that matter of the 
devices he has made for each one of you and 
which I will keep close by me. All completely 
true— with one very big exception — ” 

Mrs. Gunnison looked up. Evelyn Sawtelle 
half turned in her chair. The third figure did 
not move. 

“The soul of Mrs. Carr was not transferred 
to the body of Tansy Saylor this evening. 
That happened much earlier— when Mrs, Carr 
had the easier task of exorcising a lowly bestial 
spirit from that body and then herself occupy- 
ing the empty brain, leaving the captive soul 
of Tansy Saylor trapped in her own aged body 
- —and. doomed to be murdered by her own 
husband in accord with Mrs. Carr’s well-laid 
plan. For Mrs. Carr knew that Tansy Saylor 
would only have one panic-stricken thought — 
to run home to her husband. And Mrs. Carr 
was very sure that she could persuade Norman 
Saylor to kill the body housing the soul of 
his wife, under the- impression that he was 
killing Mrs. Carr. And that would have been 
the end of Tansy Saylor’s soul, since the soul 
*dies or vanishes with the body it inhabits. 

“You knew, Mrs. Gunnison, that Mrs. Carr 
had taken Tansy Saylor’s soul from you, just 
as you had taken it from Evelyn Sawtelle, and 
for similar reasons. But you dared not reveal 
that fact to Norman Saylor because you would 
have lost your one bargaining point.- This eve- 
ning you half suspected that something was 
different from what it seemed, but you did 
not dare to make a stand. 

“And now as a result of what we have done 
this evening with your help, the soul of Mrs. 
Carr is once more in the body of Mrs. Carr, and 
the soul of Tansy Saylor is in the body of 
Tansy Saylor. That is all. And now, good 
night.” 

The six-paneled door closed behind them. 
The pebbly path crunched under their feet. 

“How did you know?” was Tansy’s first 
question. “When I stood there in the doorway, 
blinking through those awful spectacles, gasp- 

x N THE 



ing after the way I’d hurried with only the 
blind thought of finding you — how did you 
know?” 

“Partly,” he said reflectively, “because she 
gave herself away toward the end. She began 
to emphasize words in that exaggerated way of 
hers. But that wouldn’t have been enough in 
itself. She was too good an actress.^ She must 
have been studying your mannerisms for years. 
And after seeing how well you played her part 
tonight, with hardly any preparation, I wonder 
that I ever did see through her.” 

“Then how did you?” 

“It was partly the way you hurried up the 
walk — it didn’t sound like Mrs. Carr. And 
partly something about the way you held your- 
self. But mainly it was that headshake you 
gave — that quick triple headshake, I couldn’t 
fail to recognize it. And after that, I realized 
all the other things.” 

“Do you think,” said Tansy softly, “that 
after this you’ll never begin to wonder if I am 
really I?’ ? 

“I suppose I will,” he said seriously. “But I 
believe I’ll always be able to conquer my 
doubts,” 

And Tansy laughed. 

But he was not yet over being serious. “I 
think that tonight we were a lot closer to a 
much bigger danger than even we ever 
guessed,” he said. He had not yet surrendered 
to the reaction that gripped Tansy. “There’s 
more behind this matter of the Balance than 
we may realize. There’s a lot we’ll do with 
this, but we’ll want to go slowly and test every 
step of the way.” 

There were footsteps, then a friendly greet- 
ing from the shadows ahead. 

“Hello, you two,” called Mr. Gunnison. 
“Bridge game over? I thought I’d walk back 
with Linthicum and then drive home with 
Hulda. Say, Norman, Pollard dropped' in to 
speak to me after the paper had been read. 
He’s had a sudden change of heart on that 
matter we were talking about. From what he 
says, the trustees may even cancel their 
meeting.” 

“It was a very interesting paper,” Mr. Carr 
informed them, “and I had the satisfaction oi 
asking the speaker a very tricky question. But 
I’m sorry I_ missed the bridge. Oh, well, I 
don’t suppose I’ll ever notice any difference.’' 

“And the funny thing is,” Tansy told Nor- 
man after they had walked on, “is that he really 
nxmtr 



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TTMES golden bridle was the answer to the golden dream 
of every jockey — it meant a winner in every race. But its 
golden touch had something, too, of the Midas touch-= 



(Illustrated by Alfred 



Say, that is mighty white. I do not mind 
if I do, though I remembers the day when I 
would not of touched beer with a ten-foot pole. 
Weight. Jockeys has got to watch their weight 
like it is tombstones they is putting on instead 
of pounds. 

Well, here’s luck, mister. May all your 
double parlays give the bookies fits. 

What’s that? Yeah, sure I am a jockey. 
Was. There is not no point in giving you the 
old three and five. You look like a right guy. 
Why should I kid you? I have not been up 
on a horse for four years. Six months cold 
for a jock is a wide turn, but four years — say, 
four years is — what the devil, I am washed up 
cleaner than a choirboy’s ears. 

And this is not my fault. That is what gives 
me the bum. It is not my fault. When Lady 
Luck smiles in the racing game she has got a 
grin so broad you can count her back fillings, 
but, when she quits smiling, brother, she just 
quits and you might as well go wrap your head 
in a sweat blanket and forget it. 

You know, you is going along good, not 
winning no Champagne Stakes nor nothing 



like that, but hitting the percentages and going 
along O. K., see,' when all of a sudden you finds 
that things begin to happen. And they keeps 
right on happening and you can spit in the 
wind all you want to and chew four-leaf clovers 
and take a horseshoe to bed with you and it 
does not have no effect. Things just keeps 
right on happening until after a while the 
trainers puts the double O on you and you can 
not even get a leg up on a spavined brood 
mare and everybody takes to calling you 
“Jinx.” 

That is me, mister. Jinx Jackson. 

Oh, I am not beefing none. I manages, what 
with one thing and another. But believe me, 
buddy, it is enough to give you the yelping 
wipes when you stands there by the fence 
with the sun beating down on you, and the 
crowd milling around excitedlike, and the 
bugles blowing, and the flags waving, and the 
horses walking past— nervous — and the colors 
up with their pants skintight and their shirts 
bellying out like silk balloons, and then they 
are wheeling the barrier in, and you look at 
the track and it is smooth and sweet and fast 



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as a filly with bees in her ears, and everything 
gets still except the popcorn peddlers, and 
there is that awful minute when you is waiting 
and the shirt sticks to your back and you gets 
that old, familiar, tight feeling on the inside 
of your thighs, and your tongue is like a sponge 
bit between your teeth, and then that cry — 
like a rising wind — “THEY’RE OFF!” 

That is when it hits you. Right here. As 
if somebody has yanked your stomach out and 
'Let it go wham back at you, like a pair of sus- 
penders. 

That— and when you see a snipe getting 
hisself boxed on a inside turn, or bearing out 
in the run through the stretch, or — aw, nuts 
with it. It gets you, that is all. It gets you. 

Once you has got the feel of horses in your 
blood you is a goner. A gone goner. It is 
there, brother, and there is not no use fighting 
it. You cannot no more keep away from a 
paddock than you can stop blinking your eyes. 

Jimmie Winkie used to say, “You can shake 
grief and sorrow, you can bury remorse — but 
you can’t never lose the feel o’ a horse.” 

Jimmie Winkie. Yeah, Wee Willie. That 
is the same. 

Good! Man, he had the magic touch. Why, 
he could add twenty lengths to anything on 
four legs. Easy, Jimmie was tops. Why, I 
has seen him come from behind the hard way 
and spot them a extfa advantage by pulling 
out and still win and there was not no photo 
finishes, neither. When he won, mister, he 
won. _ 

He was a funny guy, he was. Had a kind 
of puckery face and big ears. Walked springy, 
like a banty rooster. Used to use a special 
bridle when he was up. Superstitious? It is 
not superstition exactly. It is just a kind of 
a feeling you get about certain things. Lots of 
us jocks are thataway. I know I would of had 
a hissy — four years ago — if I had of mislaid a 
old wore-out crop I always carried. Moe Pren- 
tice had a buckeye he would not of "parted with 
for nobody. Jackie Watson had some sort of 
a medal on a silver chain. Cry Baby Noolan 
would not no more of thought of riding with 
his cap anyway but hind side to than he would 
of thought of riding without any clothes on. 
In fact, if he would of had to make a choice, I 
reckon he would of rode in his skin before he 
would of changed his cap proper. And, like 
I said, Jimmie has this here special bridle, 
though there is not much special about it ex- 
cept that it is goldish-looking if you hold it in 
the right light. But seems he takes a fancy 



to it and from the way he acts you would of 
thought it is made from the tanned hide of a 
Derby winner. But it is not no such thing, of 
course. It is just a bridle like any racing bridle 
only, like I said, it is goldish-looking in a un- 
noticeable manner. 

He gets it one year when we is finishing up 
the circuit down in Tijuana. This is before 
he hits his stride. When he is going along, like 
me, not snaffling no tall money nor nothing 
but knocking off his percentages. He is plain 
Jimmie Winkie then. The newspapers has not 
tagged that there Wee Willie on to him yet 
and he is not endorsing no- leather jackets, nor 
saying as how he likes Puffie Wuffies because 
they is superroasted and rolled on hoops. 

Well, as I was saying, we is down in Tijuana 
and it is nighttime and we is walking down 
one of them crooked streets which is about as 
thick in Tijuana as saddle sores is in a riding 
academy. We is walking along with our hands 
in our pockets and not much else, being as 
how we has inadvertently got mixed up in a 
game knowed as faro, the same which is like 
being on the wrong end of a loco brone, and 
which we would not of got into if Jimmie had 
not of wanted to increase a five-dollar bill into 
a ten-dollar bill so as to buy a real nice present 
for Ditsy. Anyhow, like I said, we is walking 
along minding our own business when there 
is— 

Ditsy? Oh, Ditsy was Jimmie’s sister. Name 
was Dorothy, but Jimmie called her Ditsy., 
He was crazy about her. Seemed like he had 
raised her since she .was knee high to a feed 
box. Guess they had some muddy tracks, 
them two, and what with their not having 
nobody but theirselves and her being crippled, 
why, one way and another, he set a lot of store 
by her. 

Anyway, we is walking along, Jimmie and 
me, and I am thinking about what we is going 
to eat for breakfast the next day, and lunch, 
and supper, and Jimmie is thinking about how 
is he going to buy Ditsy something when we 
hear a rumpus going on around a corner up 
ahead. It increases graduallike and when we 
gets to the corner we meets it, head-on you 
might say. 

There is about a dozen people who is all 
personal acquaintances of John Barleycorn, 
and they is pestering a woman who looks like 
she is on her way to a masquerade at a insane 
asylum. She has got on a sheet all draped 
and wrapped every which way and her feet 



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is laced up in sandals and there is a wreath 
on her hair, only now it is setting cockeyed on 
account of as how these here people has been 
chasing her, and she is carrying a bridle. In 
fact, if I had of spent my money on John 
Barleycorn instead of faro, X probably would 
of joined in on the side of these here people 
who is laughing theirselves sick and grabbing 
at this here sheet and having a big time, for 
which I cannot blame them any as this woman 
is sure a curious sight. 

While I am thinking what a curious sight 
she is, Jimmie busts up the party. He does 
this with very little fuss, hitting merely one 
guy who goes down like a sack oi wet oats and 
the rest takes to their heels as I am doubling 
up my fists preparing to wade in. 

"Now, sister,” Jimmie says, rubbing his 
knuckles tenderlike, "if I was you I would 
vamoose. Tijuana is no place for a lady without 
as how she has got company to see that she 
gets where she has started out for.” 

Well, this woman straightens her wreath and 
breaks out in some kind of a foreign language 
which sounds like nothing I ever heard unless 
it is "Chopsticks” played on a piano which m 
out of tune and is minus some of the keys. 

‘Took, sister,” Jimmie says, "vamoose while 
the vamoosing is favorable.” 

The woman makes some motions and spouts 
some more of this here talk and there is just 
one word I get and that is "grease.” She says 
this over and over, "Grease, grease,” mean- 
while gesturing for all she is able. 

"Grease?” Jimmie says, puzzled, and she 
npds violently and shakes the bridle she is 
carrying and does a act like she is putting it 
on a horse and then flaps her arms like she is 
flying. 

"Grease,” she says. 

I begins to get uneasy. "Say;” I says to 
Jimmie, sotto voice, "let’s us get out of here — 
this gal has got bats in her belfry.” 

"I think she has lost a horse,” Jimmie says 
slow. 

"Horse!” I says. "How is she going to 
straddle a horse in that getup? She has lost 
her mind. Let’s us get out of here. Loonies 
is not no picnic.” 

Jimmie does not pay no attention to me; 
He takes the bridle away from her — gentle — 
so as not to scare her and he does a act like he 
is putting it on a horse. "Horse?” he says. 

This looney looks at him a minute, then her 
face kind of brightenslike. She points to the 
bridle Jimmie is holding and says, "Hippos.” 



"She has got the D. T.’s,” I cheeps. "She 
is talking about a hippopotamus what flies or 
I will eat that there bridle. Come on,” I says, 
"this is not no place for — ” But I do not get 
no further because there is a faint whinny and 
this here woman shrieks joyfully and — without 
so much as a kiss-my-foot — lams in the direc- 
tion of this here nickering which, judging from 
the sound, is a block or so to our rear — though 
we has not seen no sign of no horse when we 
is walking by thataway. 

We stands there gawking after this dame 
while she disappears in the night and Jimmie, 
suddenlike, yells, "Hey, here is your bridle,” 
and starts after her and me after Jimmie, be- 
cause .1 has not got no wish to see Jimmie 
sucked in on something that is not kosher, and 
it is plain that there is something here that 
does not meet the eye right off. 

I dope it that this here dame is a kind of 
a lead rein for some guys which is laying low 
m a alley or some place figuring to roll who- 
ever she ropes in, and it is a unpleasant statistic 
that persons is often beat up severe when it 
is discovered they has not got no wherewith to 
make such a business profitable. 

When we gets down the street a ways I 
catches up to Jimmie and stops him and I says, 
"Has you taken leave of your senses? This 
here is one of them cul-de-sacs or I am a ring- 
tailed — ” But I do not say baboon, which I 
had intended, because somewhere I hears a 
noise like a lot of pigeons taking off — like they 
has been shooed — and from way up, like on a 
roof, I hears this woman laughing and it dwin- 
dles away and, then, it is quiet and a little 
white feather drifts down and lands in the 
gutter. It is all very weird and I do not like it. 

"I would of swore a horse nickered down 
here a minute ago,” Jimmie says. 

"Shut up,” I says, "and let’s us get out of 
here before we is knifed in the back.” 

So we does and that is how Jimmie come 
by the bridle. 

Well, say, I do not mind if I do. There is 
this about beer. You do not have to worry 
none the next morning about tying your shoes. 
Ever try sticking a hot knife in it? Many’s 
the time I has seen my old man heat the poker 
until it is as red as the old Scratch hisself and 
then plunge it into the pail. That was when 
you could get all you wanted for a dime with 
boiled ham and cheese and bologna throwed in- 
to boot and, like as not, a slice of liver for the 
cat. 



' UNKNOWN WORLDS 

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Here’s bumps, mister. And may you never 
tear up your ducats without looking twice. 

Where was I? Oh, yeah, Tijuana. Well, 
here we is without a buffalo between us. Broke 
as a skillet of scrambled eggs and up in the 
fifth the next day, the same which dawns bright 
and early and finds me and Jimmie nearly split- 
ting a girth trying to trade that there bridle 
for a plate of buckwheat cakes, but everybody 
gives us the zero gaze until I begins to wonder 
if we is coming down with smallpox. So we 
hunts up a dopester by the name of Stew 
Hatcher and he stakes us to a meal after which 
we hangs around until he has got up his sheet 
and then we rides out to the track with him 
and his girl. We asks Stew, just kidding, who 
he is picking in the fifth and Stew says it is 
not us and he is not kidding. For his money, 
he says, it is High Jinks, Admirella and Sky- 
Eagle. One, two, three. 

I am up on Black Boy and Jimmie he is up 
on Peajacket, so we thumbs our noses at Stew 
and gives him the buzz and says as how we is 
pleased to have met this girl he is with — which 
is a lie because she' is very snooty — and we 
goes on in. - 

We gets into our colors and sets around with 
the fellows dishing out a lot of bull about what 
we done in Tijuana and Jimmie gives me the 
wink and says he has got hold of a nifty bridle 
he is willing to take a loss on. And he gets 
this here bridle out of his locker and .says if 
anybody will give him a fin for it they can have 
it, though they will be rooking him on the deal. 

Boy, does he get the laugh. Moe says he 
will give him a fin for it if Jimmie will throw 
in Peajacket and shine his boots for a- week, 
too. And Cry Baby Noolan says if it is such 
a hot bridle why don’t he bridle Peajacket with 
it. And everybody starts gaffing Jimmie and 
I acts real indignant and I says what is it 
worth to them if he does bridle Peajacket with 
it, them being such sports. Jimmie, seeing the 
lay of the land, plays up to me and says, "No,” 
and everybody chimes in giving him the merry 
ha-ha and when there is three bucks up he will 
not do it, why, then Jimmie says O. K., he 
will do it, see. 

Does a holler go up when they catches on to 
how. they has been taken! But Jimmie says 
a bet is a bet and he is game enough to live 
up to his end of the bargain if they is. "Of 
course, if they isn't — ” he says, inferring that 
anybody who reneges is a horse’s patoot, so, 
naturally, nobody reneges, though there is some 
grousing. 



I used to say to Jimmie, I would say, "Jim- 
mie, remember the day at Tijuana when we 
nicked Moe and them for three bucks?” And 
Jimmie, he would say, "Yeah,” and kind of 
draw in his breath like he was thinking about 
it — hard. Remembering how Peajacket upset 
the bookies’ apple cart. 

' You* see, Stew Hatcher is wrong. It is Pea- 
jacket, High Jinks and Admirella. One, two, 
three. And the owner of Peajacket — I forget 
his name, big loose-mouthed chap with a face 
like a side of beef— is fair to be hobbled be- 
cause he has not bet on his own entry on 
account of as how it is a cinch to lose. It is a 
two-year-old he has picked up for seven and a 
quarter at a public sale and he is just feeling 
him out and damn if Jimmie does not bring 
in a win. 

Me? Oh, I comes in with the tailbearers. 
I could of got in a lame fourth, but I am so 
whooper-jawed watching Jimmie go down the 
stretch like a lighted fuse that I lets this here 
Black Boy lam up on bear out — -he' was death 
on bearing out — and, of course, that puts the 
quietus on us.- There is not no percentage in 
whipping a horse over* for fourth place. A 
horse has got sense enough to know when you 
is making a fool out of him. 

No, I do not guess you will recollect Pea- 
jacket. He turns out to be a foozle, after all. 
He is entered a couple of more times, Saratoga; 
I thinks, and Empire City— Syl Patton up — 
but he does not do nothing but pick up a 
coupla pounds of mud. 

But he sure is not no foozle that afternoon 
at Tijuana.. 

There is not no barrier. You just keeps back 
of the line as best you can. That is one way 
to lose a race before the gun. I has seen them 
do it on purpose. You know, too tight a rein, 
get your horse skittered, make him break three 
or four times, and, when the gun goes, hold him 
. back just long enough to let him see that he 
is a cooked potato. Nine times out of ten you 
can whip him raw and he will run, but he will 
not run fast enough. But your nose is clean. 
The trainer cannot say as how you did not try. 
. Say, am I boring you with this? If I am — 
okke doke, any time you has had a sufficiency, 
say so. 

Well, as I was saying, there is not no barrier. 
Outside of a little tail flicking and head tossing, 
Black Boy is as calm as a Jersey cow. High 
Jinks breaks once and Sky Eagle and some 
of the field prances around a bit, but Peajacket 



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he acts like he has been fed hopped oats. In 
fact, there is some talk of it later on, but they 
cannot never prove nothing. Anyway, this 
here Peajacket is taking on for a fare-you-well 
with Jimmie trying to gentle him down and 
the starter getting mad and a jock, name of 
Happy Slauderwasser — that is a moniker for 
you, nice guy though — who is next to Pea- 
jacket swearing something fierce. Finally, 
Jimmie gets this here Peajacket backed in and 
he is lathered up like a ad for saddle soap, and 
the gun goes, and out of the tail of my eye as 
me and Black Boy takes off I sees Peajacket 
rearing up and I thinks, “Oh, Lordy,” because 
it is a mile last one in has to pitch a buck in 
the kitty. And it is plain to see, in a field of 
fifteen, Jimmie is slated to be the last one in 



and then we will only have a buck apiec© in- 
stead of a buck fifty. 

I settles down and starts easing over to the 
inside track hoping for a pocket. High Jinks 
is up ahead and he is not anywheres near let 
out yet. There is three or four horses in be- 
tween, then Admirella nosing up, Sky Eagle 
alongside, doing like me, playing a wait, and 
Jimmie and the rest of the field bunched in 
behind. 

I am not thinking about Jimmie no more, 
though. I am concentrating on them three or 
four babies cutting off my view of High Jinks. 
I am not worried about them none, but when 
there is a opening I wants to be there instead 
of Sky Eagle. So I am concentrating, like I 
said, and I hear this horse coming. You do 



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not actually hear them as much as you feel 
them. It is a mixture of both. It is like you 
got an alarm system inside of you arid all of 
a sudden it is ringing like who popped Mollie 
and you know with a kind of a .... of a ... a 
kind of a awareness that you got heavy com- 
petition. 

I remembers wondering who it could be. 
There is High Jinks and Admirella in plain 
sight. Sky Eagle and me practically pat-a,- 
eaking at each other, some of the field ahead, 
but they is giving by now and, so far as I know, 
what is left in tow is not capable of doing noth- 
ing but horse apples. 

I do not take my mind off this here opening, 
though. It is getting ripe, I can see that, and 
x I am bound I am going to be there when it is 
due before it closes in and strings out. 

Then, I catches a glimpse of this here horse 
on the off side of Sky Eagle. A kind of con- 
sciousness it is of this here third horse and I 
am sort ©f cheered when I see it is not bother- 
ing none about no openings, nor no inside 
track, nor nothing like that. And, while I am 
being cheered and thinking what a smart guy 
I am, this here third horse pounds ahead past 
Sky Eagle, a shoulder, half a length, a length, 
and that opening I been hovering over swings 
wide as a barn door and Sky Eagle is through 
it because I am yawping at Jimmie Winkie 
with his ears skinned back crouched high on 
Peajacket, and if I had not of knowed better 
I would of swore he was scared green, and 
while I am yawping. Black Boy bears out so, 
as I said, that puts the quietus on us. 

There has been better races run and bigger 
ones has been won by darker horses, but, off- 
hand, I cannot call any to mind that I got such 
a thrill out of. I do not know whether it is 
because I am so cocksure Jimmie is bringing 
up the rear, or because Moe Prentice — he is up^ 
on High Jinks — is took down a peg or two, or 
maybe because there is a certain something 
about the way that there horse runs with his 
nostrils red and wide, and his tail streaming out 
behind him like it has been starched, and his 
hoofs beating music out of that there track 
like a crazy drummer, and Jimmie pasted to 
him close as a surcingle and with a kind of a 
look about him like night wind sounds, if you 
know what I mean. A kind of a queer, wild, 
blowy look. But most of all I guess it is the 
horse. J 

Jimmie says it is the horse and he ought to 
of knowed being as how he was up on him. 
Jimmie says it is also a great surprise to him 



that Peajaeket wins, but, naturally, he does 
not say this out — but just to me — as it is not a 
good policy to let on that you are surprised 
when you bring in a winner. 

How does it feel to bring in a winner? 
Brother, you can have the greatest symphony 
that was ever wrote; I will take the thunder 
of a winner’s hoofs coming down the straight- 
away; That is something, brother. That is 
really something. It is like a . . . like a . . . 
well, like I said, a kind of a awareness. Like 
you was conscious of the noise and the feel all 
at the same minute. Take that there Pea- 
jacket. I got it right away. The noise and 
the feel together, I mean. Like there was two 
horses running. One on top the other. 

We bums a ride back after the seventh and 
gets out on the main drag and flips a coin to 
see whether we eats or buys Ditsy something. 

.It comes out buying Ditsy something so we 
goes to one of these here shops that has a win- 
dow full of everything from jewelry to table- 
cloths and we picks out a powder box that 
plays a tune when the lid is lifted off. A thin, 
tinkly, sort of plink, plink tune, but pretty. 
Reminds you of the* way ladies used to rustle 
when they walked, if you know what I mean. 

While the guy is wrapping it up, Jimmie 
goes over and picks up a vase which is setting 
on a shelf with a lot of other vases. This here, 
vase he picks up is blue and has a lot of well- 
built dames on it holding garlands of flowers. 
Jimmie kind of whistles. 

‘'Look at this here,” he says. 

I agrees it is nice, but points out that we 
has got exactly twenty-nine cents between us 
and the price is marked clear two fifty. 

“This is a strange coincidence,” he says, more 
to hisself than me, and I says it is not no co- 
incidence it is a vase and if he is thinking about 
switching over, why, there is a vase on the shelf 
above which is better-looking on account of as 
how it has a scene painted on it and the price 
is twenty-five cents cheaper. 

This guy comes up about this time and 
washes his hands in the air and asks if we are 
interested in a vase. , 

“No,” I says. 

“Yes,” Jimmie says. “Who is this here 
middle dame on this here vase?” 

“They represent the Muses,” this guy says. 
“A marvelous buy for the money.” 

“This here middle dame is a Muse?” asks 
Jimmie. 

“They are all Muses,” this guy says, “god- 



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desses of the arts and poetry and science. A 
very artistic vase. Only two fifty/’ 

“Did any of them have a horse?” Jimmie 
asks. 

“Horse?” 

“Horse.” 

“I could not say. It is a very handsome 
vase, howinever, and I will make you a special 
price of two twenty-five, if you are interested.” 
“Where can I find out if any of them had a 
horse?” 

“I could not say, unless it is the library. Two 
dollars even I will make it. Below that I can- 
not go.” 

“Very well,” I chimes in, being tired of 
Jimmie ribbing this here guy about a horse, 
“we will take it in place of the powder box.” 
With that this guy freezes over like the out- 
side of a mint julep and he says chillylike, “I 
have just remembered that this vase has been 
put aside for another party.” 

And I says, “That is very odd being as how 
you were so all fired set on us having it at 
reduced cost.” 

“Herman,” this guys says. 

And another guy with a neck like a Per- 
cheron, shoulders his way through a curtain in 
the back and stands there like as if he is itching 
for somebody to say “When.” So we takes 
our package and we leaves. 

I am in favor of hunting up a crap game 
and shooting our twenty-nine cents and Jim- 
mie says that is a splendid idea and for me to 
do so and he will meet me at the pool parlor in 
a hour. I asks where is he going? And he 
says the library. And as he has never been 
inside a library in his life to my certain knowl- 
edge, I figure he is telling me in a nice way to 
mind my own business. Which I does. And 
in a hour I has run the twenty-nine cents into 
eight bits and a Masonic emblem. 

I meets Jimmie like he said and I can see 
right away he is exceptional thoughtful. We 
go to a place called La Cucuracha where the 
second cup of coffee is free and you gets gravy 
with your potatoes, although Jimmie seems to 
have lost his appetite. He keeps transferring 
his food from one side of his plate to the other 
until I outs and asks him pointblank what is 
ailing him. 

“Did you ever hear tell of a horse called 
Pegasus?” he says by way of answer. 

“No,” I says. “Who sired him?” 

“He is out of Medusa by Neptune,” says 
Jimmie. 



“I never heard of them, neither,” I says 
shoveling in a mouthful of potatoes and gravy. 
“What has this here Peg-whoit got to do with 
you?” 

“I am not certain for sure,” he says, “but X 
has got a, idea.” 

“Which is?” 

“Could be he got biowed off his course,” 
Jimmie says, “or got scared by another gadfly 
or some such, landed in Tijuana and this here 
Muse comes after him and — ” 

“Look,” I says, “one of us has got a screw 
loose and it is not me. Begin over and repeat 
slow and there is apple pie with the dinner 
and if you do not want it I will eat your pieced 
if it is all the same to you. Now what was 
you saying?” 

He shoves his plate back. “I am going to 
break the track record tomorrow,” he says, and 
there is something about the way he says it, 
some quality in his voice that makes me sit 
up and take notice all of a sudden. 

A kind of creepy sensation comes over me 
and I am reminded of when I am a kid and the 
grandfather’s clock in the hall would strike 
during the night. It would go bong — -bong — 
bong real slow and soft, but filling the house, 
howinever, and making the air vibrate. I 
would lie there and think, “It is just the grand- 
father’s clock in the hall,” but that did not 
make no difference. - My feet would get cold 
and my eyes near bug out of my head, and I 
would not have no swallow and I would lie 
there thinking, “It is just the grandfather’s 
clock in the hall.” 

I gives Jimmie one of them searching looks 
you read about, but it does not tell me nothing 
except that he is a mite tightened-uplike and 
is letting some fifty cents worth of food go to 
waste. 

“Thanks for the tip,” I says. “Who you 
planning on being up on? Man-o’-Wax?” 

“Ditsy has always wanted a grand piano,” 
he says, “since she was not bigger’n a boot- 
jack.” And he says, “I will get her the best 
one money can buy.” 

It is obvious that he tightened up more 
than I think because there is not enough space 
in that two-room flat in Cleveland to hold 
both Ditsy and a grand piano at the same* 
time. 

“That will be dandy,” I says, “but I am 
afraid there will not be no grand piano in it. 
Them things cost folding money.” 

“Folding money,” he repeats and the words 
sounds like a three-inch sirloin the way he says 



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them— thick and red and juicy. “You know 
what I am going to have,” he says, “I am go- 
ing to have a .pair of handmade boots — them 
that laces at the ankle — and I am going to have 
a suit with buttonholes under the buttons on 
the sleeves. Not just thread sewed to look 
like buttonholes — real buttonholes I am going 
to have under the buttons and a yellow chamois 
- bag/’ 

“A yellow chamois bag under the buttons,” 

I says and, recalling to mind a chap named Joe 
Hankins who fought a bunch of Comanches all 
one night in a psycopathic ward at a hospital 
in Louisville, I continues to smile pleasantly 
while I eases my chair back. 

“Yeah,” Jimmie says, “lined with flannel so 
as the bridle will not get scratched up none.” 

“Sure,” I agrees, “flannel.” 

“Saratoga,” says Jimmie, “Havre de Grace, 
Narragansett, Hialeah, Aqueduct.” 

“Hawthorne, Churchill Downs, Empire City, 
Belmont Park, Thistledown,” I chimes in nod- 
ding like a Chinese laundryman who has lost 
' your wash. I holds my breath and gets to my 
feet praying that I will be able to ease him out 
quiet. 

“Through?” Jimmie says, cool as a cucum- 
ber. “What say we see if we can get a game 
of pool on the cuff?” 

The next day he breaks the track record. 

I has thought about it a great deal since 
then and do you know what I figure? I figure 
it like this. I figure that Jimmie had got on 
to a secret. There is a secret to doing every- 
thing. Like tight-rope walking, or shooting 
par golf consistent, or whizzing a ball over a 
tennis net so as it falls just so and dribbles off 
before it can be got up off the ground. There 
is a secret to juggling plates and a secret to 
pole vaulting higher than anybody else. The 
plates and the pole and the rope and the golf v 
clubs and tennis racquet is all the same. What 
I mean is you could take half a dozen plates 
and throw them up in the air and they would 
land behind the eight ball. But take these here 
same identical plates and give them to a juggler 
and he will make them perform without so 
much as mussing his tie. Why? Because he 
knows the secret. 

Well, then, why can it not be the same way 
with horses? I am not saying you can take a 
plow horse and make him win a race any more 
than that there juggler can juggle plates made 
out of pig iron. But I am saying, if you know 
the secret, you can take a race horse and make 



him win a race. And, like I said, I has thought 
about it a lot arid I figure there is a, secret and 
Jimmie has got on to it. I figure the secret 
comes to him in a flash like when you know, in 
a sort of a burst of knowing, that the dealer has 
aces back to back. Because from that day on 
he never rides a loser. Except one. I will get 
around to that in a second. 

Saratoga and Hialeah and Havre de Grace 
and all of them is nqt.no pipe dream. And 
neither is Ditsy’s grand piano, though it is not 
in no two-room flat. It is in a living room as 
big as from here to there. One of them two- 
storied jobs that goes all the way up to the 
roof. One of them studio living rooms. And 
done real classy with drapes and hand-carved 
furniture and lamps with rose silk on the un- 
derneath parts of their shades, and them black- 
and-white, pen-and-ink-looking pictures on the 
walls, and a rug that feels like it will arch in 
the midde and pur if you rub it, it is that soft. 

Of course, it does not happen pronto. It 
starts out gradual with Jimmie’s name in the 
papers — “Keep your eye on So-and-So up on 
So-and-So” — and then it takes a up curve with 
the sports writers pegging him with this here 
Wee Willie arid first thing you know he is 
appearing regular Sundays in the rotogravure, 
him and Ditsy, holding a horseshoe or a sham- 
rock or this here bridle or such as that, and 
persons are talking about the “Winkle Tech- 
nique” and children is eating their weight in 
cereal because Wee Willie Winkie says as how 
it has got Vitamin Q and for six box tops or 
reasonable facsimiles thereof the cereal people 
will send you a handsome, autographed photo- 
graph of Wee Willie on Martinique or Little 
John or Fireflow or some such as them. And 
his stock is going up like a fever chart. And 
he is in the bucks.- But I mean in, brother. 

It changes him some. I do not mean he 
goes around putting out like he has hung the 
moon and painted the blue sky; if anything, he 
quietens down and kind of draws into hisself 
like. In fact, when he is congratulated on his 
ability, which he is every time he turns around, 
he acts like it is making him sick to his 
stomach. And when the write-ups come out 
about how modest he is and shy and retiring 
and how he always tries to give the credit for 
a win to the horse, why then he acts like he is 
even sicker and- getting no better fast. 

Naturally, while most of the publicity is 
along the lines of sweetness and light, there is 
some of it as squeezes out a few lemons. Like 
them that says as how Winkie rides a horse 



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walleyed, and them as hints it is mighty pe- 
culiar he does not never lose and a pity, fur- 
thermore, because the odds on a horse what is 
toting Winkie is something to behold in a new 
all-time low. 

Then there is the follow-up gang that al- 
ways seems to heel to a celeb. Whether he 
gets to be a celeb by riding horses or eating 
goldfish or drinking thirty buckets of beer does 
not make no noticeable difference— they fol- 
lows. It gets so Jimmie cannot go nowheres 
without getting the press took out of his pants 
and he is lucky if the pants is not also took out 
with the press. 

People sends him alligators from Florida and 
salmon from Alaska. He gets lariats made 
out of tail hair plaited, and high-heeled boots 
with tooling. He gets silver spurs, and leather 
jackets, and saddles, and gloves, and som- 
breros. He gets blankets and pipes and racks 
for this and holders for that. He gets a sheep 
dog, a pair of love birds, a coon cat, a baby 
leopard, a bearskin rug with the teeth still in 
it, a stuffed owl, a collection of butterflies, and 
some twisty horns off a mountain goat all set 
and glued on a wooden thing to hang on the 
wall. He gets socks by the gross, handkerchiefs; 
by carloads and one dame even sends him aj 
box of pink silk underwear wit}i his initials 
stitched in fancy in orchid embroidery. 

To give you the idea, one day he appears 
in the papers cutting a piece out of one of 
them round coffee cakes and the next day there 1 
is nineteen round coffee cakes delivered to his 
address and he does not like round coffee cakes \ 
nor no kind of coffee cakes, but is cutting this 
here piece to please the press photographer who 
wants a homey touch. 

But for everybody what is giving him some- 
thing there is two wanting him to give them 
something. Jimmie used to say he got so he 
could tell right off who was a givee and who 
was a gimme. Not that he does not appre- 
ciate what is give him, even if he does not keep 
it, and not that he does not hand out to the 
gimmes — it is just that he does not want noth- 
ing off of nobody and does not want nobody to 
want nothing off of him. 

But when you gets in the major brackets that 
is not the way things is. So, like I said, it 
changes him some. Some way, he reminds me 
of a kid what has eat a quarter’s worth of jelly 
beans all one flavor. 

It changes Ditsy, too. Her hair is not loose- 
like and fluffy no more. It is on the order of 



a cocker spaniel’s, only precise, and her ears 
has got earbobs in them, and instead of wear- 
ing print housedresses she is all diked out in 
them dresses which is not referred to as dresses, 
but as "creations.” She has got a new wheel- 
chair which is streamlined and has more chrome 
on it than a limousine, and some bird with 
a Vandyke and a accent you can spread, like 
marmalade is giving her some kind of under- 
water massage for her legs, so she should be 
very happy. She is not, though. 

She puts on like she is happy and anybody 
what does not know her would say, "My, she 
is happy,” and they would be ninety-nine and 
forty-four hundreds percent wrong because she 
is not happy by no means. She fools Jimmie 
because Jimmie is so anxious for her to be 
happy that, when she keeps saying she is 
happy, he believes she is happy and it does 
not occur to him that when you are happy 
you does not go around saying, "My, I am 
happy,” like you was learning a lesson in 
memorizing. 

When a woman is happy she sings and 
brushes her hair a lot and says stuff like, "I 
declare, it is four o’clock already , can you beat 
that?” and she looks smily even when she is 
not actually smiling. So it is obvious Ditsy is 
not happy because she is not doing none of 
them things. When she smiles it is more or 
less of a lip movement going on under her nose 
and not having nothing to do with the rest of 
her face, and she does not sing spontaneous, 
though when she is in that two-room flat the 
landlady has had to request her several times 
to pipe down. And, instead of saying, "I de- 
clare it is four o’clock already she just says, 
"It is four o’clock,” like you would say, "The 
dodo is now become extinct,” or, "I see where 
there in a population of ninety-two in East 
Gleep, Nevada.” 

So, as I said, it changes Ditsy, too. And it 
is pathetic to watch them two, him and her, 
working so hard at being happy and pretend- 
ing that life is a bowl of cherries when it is 
plain life is a onion poultice. 

Some time passes and I am here, there, and 
yonder and word gets around that Jimmie 
Winkie is hitting the paint which occasions me 
to be surprised because Jimmie Winkie is never 
one to hit the paint even in a mild manner. 
So I am not paying any attention to these here 
remarks and I am once or twice very near 
smacking persons in the puss who say that it is 
a fact that Ditsy is turned into a red-hot 
momma. 



87 UNKNOWN WORLDS 

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derstand, but some. 

What! Her! Say, listen heie, bub — well, all 
right, no offense taken, but she is not that 
kind. O. K. 0. K. Let it ride. Sure I will 
have another beer, only do not make no more 
remarks like that, see. O. K. O. K. 

Maybe I do not make myself clear, 
she has gone in for double-jointed cigarette 
holders and red fingernails and them long- 
haired guys what paints a picture of somebody 
so as they have one eye here and one here and 
clockwork springs for the top of their head and 
maybe a spare tire for one hand and a fiddle 
for the other with a bunch of carrots sprouting 
out of it. 

Anyway, that is what I am hearing and — 
here’s bumps, brother. You know I set and 
watched a glass of beer bubble from the bottom 
one night and it bubbled for three hours and 
a half ’fore it got flat.' That was when Ditsy — 
But I will get around to" that quick enough. 
Now and again I still catches myself trying not 
to think about it. And it has been a long time. 
A long time. 



setting in a place in Cleveland: — having just 
got off the train — and some fellow comes in 
and I does not pay no attention until I see he 
is walking like a banty rooster which’ is sea- 
sick. And I yells, “Jimmie!” And he looks up 
and focuses on me and I see it is true he is 



I am not one to stick my nose in other peo- 
ple’s business. I am one who says other peo- 
ple’s business is their own business and no 
business of mine, having found that a hose 
stuck in other people’s business usually gets 
itself pinned up so as it does not look like 
a nose for quite a while after. 

But this is different. First, it is Jimmie 
Winkie. Second, he is running a race the next 
day I have seen by the papers. Third, it will 
not put no shine on his shoes if somebody says, 
“Oh, look, is that not Wee Winkie and is he 
not skizzled?” 

To make a long story short, I gets him out 
of there. I thinks about checking into a hotel, 
but there is those somebodies- again, so there 
is not nothing to do but get a cab and take 



What ? s that? Oh, that. Well, it seems that What was I saying? Oh, yeah, Jimmie hit- 
thas here underwater massage is the stuff and ting the paint. He is all right because I amr 
she is able to get around some — not good, un- 



Tmean 



hitting the paint and, if his present condition 
is a fair example, he is hitting it with a c»ni- 




UNKNOWN WORLDS 88 



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him home. The same which I does. 

When I first sees Ditsy I also thinks it is 
true that she has turned into a red-hot momma. 
She has done something to her mouth so it 
looks like it has been swatted by a ripe plum, 
and she is wearing one of them “creations’ 5 that, 
does not leave but very little to the imagina- 
tion, and she is walking with two silver-headed 
canes, and her fingernails looks like they has 
been dipped in calves’ liver while it is still in 
the calf. 

She is quite a sight W sore eyes until you 
remembers it is Ditsy and, then your collar 
gets too tight and you say, “Hello, Ditsy,” and 
she does not say nothing. She just looks at 
Jimmie until you thinks she does not know who 
it is and, then, she looks at me and her eyes 
is the color of a horse’s flanks after a workout 
— dark and wet and velvety — and she says, 
“Bring him in, Jacks,” and, some way, her voice 
sounds like it is bleeding. And, all at once, 
you know that underneath all this cover-up she 
has put on is the same old Ditsy. Worn finer, 
and kind of tired, but Ditsy. 

She knows what to do, too. She does not . 
put him to bed. She has me set him up in the 
bathroom with his head over the basin and she 
feeds him soapy water and as fast as one glass 
full comes up down goes another. And when 
he says he cannot do it no more, she wheedles 
him into doing it until his insides is as clean as 
a old maid’s conscience, and his head is woozy 
but not boozy. Also, I am under the impres- 
sion this is not the first time them two has 
underwent this here same procedure. 

Soapy water? Best thing on earth. Makes 
you feel like you has been hollowed out and 
whittled thin, but it does not leave nothing in 
you that you would want to wake up with the 
next morning. Of course, it is not exactly a 
pleasant treatment while it is going on, but, 
after it is done, although you could not fight 
no mess of apes, you could give them a run 
for their money, if such become necessary. 

After some time, Jimmie says in a washed- 
out voice, “O. K., go ahead. Tell me I am a 
louse.” 

Ditsy does not say nothing and I does not 
say nothing, neither, being busy examining 
my cuticles. 

“I know I am a louse,” he continues. “Go 
on. Get it over with. Go on, tell me I am a 
louse.” 

So I says, “You are a louse, period,” and I 
leaves off examining my cuticles and takes up 
examining Jimmie like he is a rare specimen of 



garbage that has got in among us while we 
are occupied elsewhere. 

“I was not asking you ” Jimmie says, and he 
looks at Ditsy and Ditsy looks at him and 
Ditsy does not say nothing. 

“I beg your pardon,” I says, “I thought you 
was addressing the general public of which 
there are several that says you has lost hold of 
your senses. ’V, 

“Shut up f 9 Jimmie says. “SHUT UP. I 
did not ask you to butt in, did I? Why do 
you not go back where you come from?” 

“Sure,” I says, “I will be delighted. But 
when you is handing out your interviews to- 
morrow do not give the credit for the win to 
the horse — give it to Ditsy, here. If you win.” 

“What do you mean ‘if’?” Jimmie says. “It 
is in the bag.” He laughs. “Literal,” he says. 
“You and Ditsy need not worry none.” 

“I am not worrying,” Ditsy says toneless- 
like. “It does not matter either way. Noth- 
ing does not matter. Any more.” 

The way she tags that “any more” on to it 
is horrible to listen to. It has a dead, flat, 
hopeless sound and I keep thinking, if I look 
down, I will see it laying there on the batl\ 
mat spread out on its back with its eyes rolled ' 
up. 

It gets Jimmie, too, because it is clear that 
if Ditsy had batted him on the bean with a 
lead sock he would not be more took back. 

“What do you mean?” he says. “What do 
you mean?” like that, see, with a up on the 
end. 

“I mean it is no good,” Ditsy says. “I can- 
not stand it. You are not Jimmie Winkie any 
more. You are somebody else. Somebody 
else I do not know. Somebody else who I do 
not want to know. I hope you do lose tomor- 
row,” she says and her words bump into each 
other and bunch up, like the field in a steeple- 
chase taking the first hedge. “I hope you lose 
tomorrow,” she says, “and the next day, and 
the next and the next and next and next, and 
we can go back to that two-room flat and eat 
beef stew and take turns washing the dishes 
and put toothpicks in the windows to keep 
them from rattling, and play pinochle and 
watch the car lights come over the Freeway 
and, maybe, have a pint of ice cream for a. 
treat and . . . and . . . be . . . happy” — and her 
voice breaks in the middle and she puts her 
face in her hands and starts crying. 

It is a awful experience to see a girl cry. It 
makes you feel like all your joints has swelled 



89 UNKNOWN WORLD 

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and your ears and feet belong to a two-humped 
camel. 

Jimmie says, “You want me to lose?" like 
he is suffering from hallucinations. 

Ditsy keeps on crying! 

I gives her my handkerchief and wonders if 
I ought to pat at her or something. 

“I cannot lose,” Jimmie says. 

“Look,” I says, “I think I has had sufficient. 
I am going.” • 

“I cannot lose,” Jimmie says, “and, if I do, 
they will not call me Wee Willie no more. 
Guys like Moe Prentice will give me the laugh. 
I got to keep on winning. I cannot stop now.” 

“You has not got to do nothing but die,” I 
says, “and if what guys like Moe Prentice says 
means more to you than Ditsy, here, I would 
go on off and die if I was you.” 

“What about your grand piano?” Jimmie 
says to Ditsy. 

“I hate it,” Ditsy says through her fingers. 
“I would like a c-c-canary b-b-bird.” 

“But I cannot lose,” Jimmie says, shaking 
his fist. “I cannot — unless — ” And he quits 
shaking his fist and uncloses it and looks at 
it like he expects to find it has varicose veins. 
And he looks at Ditsy setting there on the 
floor. 

“You mean what you said?” he says. 

Ditsy makes a kind of soft ooooooing noise 
like a stable hound what has been stepped on. 

“O. K.,” Jimmie says. “O. K.” He gets up 
and sort of wavers a minute and then he goes 
out and Ditsy keeps on crying and I clears my 
throat once or twice and wishes she is a horse 
so as I could gentle her and then Jimmie comes 
back in and he is carting this here bridle. 

“From me to you,” he says, plunking it -on 
the floor. And there is a long pause and then 
he adds, “Temporarily.” 

Ditsy looks at the bridle, hiccuping slightly 
like a baby what has been having colic. 

“I do not get it,” she says, hiccuping again. 

Jimmie indicates the bridle. “Remember 
the time,” he says, “that we was in the Home 
and you found a four-leaf clover in a book 
what belonged to Miss Watson? I had a 
toothache, so you snitched the four-leaf clover 
to put in my shoe so as it would go away — the 
toothache I mean. Only you said it was ‘tem- 
porarily’ because it was somebody else’s four- 
leaf clover and might have repre . . . repercus- 
sions being as how it does not actually belong 
to me. So I did— put it in my shoe I mean — 
and I got a blind abcess and it was — well, you 
know how it was.” 



“I still do not get it,” Ditsy says looking at 
the bridle like she is expecting it to turn into 
a four-leaf clover! 

“It is like this,” Jimmie says. “That there” 
— he points to the bridle — “is the same as the 
four-leaf clover. Maybe .you got a toothache 
now, but, if I lose, it might turn out to be a 
blind abcess. So it is only temporary. X am 
not giving it to you. I am only letting you 
keep it for me.” 

“I still do not get it,” Ditsy says, blowing 
her nose in my handkerchief . 

“I do,” I says. “He is saying you thinks you 
wants a canary bird when what you really 
wants is a grand piano, which you have already 
got.” 

“You stay out of this,” Jimmie says. 

“Lay off jacks,” Ditsy says to Jimmie. “He 
is all right.” 

/‘Jacks is a old lady,” Jimmie says to Ditsy. 

“I am going,” I says. Which I does. 

No. No more beer. I am not half through 
with this one. I do not like to crowd them# 
And, speaking of crowding, that is what I 
think happens to Jimmie. 

Lose? I reckon he does. He does not even 
get away from the post. 

What I mean about crowding, I figure this 
here horse Jimmie is up on gets crowded 
quick. There is some crows slow, some easy, 
some quick. Jimmie happens to be up on 
Beeknight and, the way I figure, I figure 
Beeknight crowds quick. You know how it is, 
out of the barrier, everybody trying for a inside 
track, some pushing maybe, though this is not 
noticeable unless you is up. Now them that 
crowds slow gets out and tries, and them that 
crowds easy falls in, but them that crowds 
quick rears up and starts doing the Highland 
fling. There is not many. But there is some. 
And, like I said, the way I figure, Beeknight 
is one of the some. 

After it is all over, there is plenty who say 
there is something fishy because Beeknight is 
never one to crowd slow, easy, or quick. Jim- 
mie has been up on Beeknight before and 
Beeknight has always came in' home free. In 
fact, before this here episode I am getting 
ready to tell you about, Beeknight is being 
touted for the Jockey Gold Cup, so there is 
plenty who say the atmosphere smells highly 
of cod. 

Jimmie pull him? You mean on account of 
Ditsy saying what she said? Maybe. I thought 
about that angle, but I am almost sure for 



UNKNOWN WORLDS 90 

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certain that is not the case, I seen him right 
after it is over and, if he is putting on a show, 
I am a snub-tailed bloodhound. 

No, I figure horses like I figure human be- 
ings. They is subject to change. This here 
Beeknight might of slept restless, he might of 
been overtrained, he might of been scary, he 
might of had gas, he might of sensed Jimmie 
was not in no mood. Them things affects a 
horse. So I say there is nothing off-color, but 
that this here Beeknight has underwent a 
change and happens to crowd quick. 

It is like this, see. I avoided Jimmie like 
he has got the plague and this is reciprocated 
on his part. I see he is jittery and keyed up, 
but this is no mud on my boots, so I leave 
him be. Not that he is left be, because there 
is many who do not think he has got the 
plague. It is very sickening to watch. 

I wonder if Ditsy is in the stands, but I do 
not wonder long as somebody asks him if his 
sister is in the stands and he says, “No, .she is 
home.” And somebody says, “Don’t she like 
horse races?” And he says, “No.” And some- 
body says, “Well, that is odd. Your own 
sister.” And he says, “How would you like 
to go bag your ears,” which shows that he is 
keyed up to a considerable degree. 

He is up in the first, again in the third, and 
again in the fourth. I am not up at all until 
the next day. In fact, I am only there because 
X cannot stay away, so I goes out and hangs 
over the veranda rail to watch the first. 

It is a swell day. One of them high, blue 
ones. There is music coming out of the an- 
nouncing system and people is walking around 
and everything is kind of stirred up like — like 
it is before the start. It is a fast track and 
pretty to look at and Happy Slauderwasser 
comes out and says, “Move over,” and we 
both hangs over the veranda rail and just look 
at how everything looks, if you know what I 
mean. 

Then the horses is mincing past, Jimmie 
about as big as a good-sized pea, and then the 
barrier is in, and it is Beeknight in No. 6, 
and everything gets quiet with a little murmur 
running through it like, a breeze with a lid on 
it, and you can hear the popcorn peddlers real 
plain, and then there is that swelling cry, 
“THEY’RE OFF!” But it chokes in the mid- 
dle and there is a surge for the fence and the 
stands rise up and cranes their necks and 
Happy says,. “My God!” and I near falls over 
the veranda rail because Beeknight is pawing 
the air and kicking and acting in general like 




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he is a prize exhibition at a rodeo and for all 
them shenanigans, he does not go riowheres. 
It is like he is trying to kick his way through 
a wall or something. Jimmie is stuck closer 
than a plaster, but not for long. Beeknight 
gives a lunge and Jimmie goes over, and a sort 
of a soft, gusty sound goes up from the crowd 
like a thousand breaths has been let out at 
once. 

By the time Jimmie has hit the ground, they 
is taking Beeknight out and do you know that 
confounded horse is as calm as a June morn- 
ing? Jimmie gets out under his own power. 

Yeah. You see it coming, kick' loose and 
roll with the fall and it does not no more than 
scrape off the top fuzz. 

It seems like a hour at least has gone past, 
but it cannot be no more than a handful of 
seconds because it is all clear when the field 
moves into the stretch. 

Happy and me look at each other. 

Happy says, “Wow.”. 

I says, “It looks like ^somebody is going to 
get a bird.” 

“Yeah,” Happy says, “a Bronx one.” 

“No,” I says, “a yellow one with feathers 
what sings,” and I go on down to stand on the 
edge of the crowd what is surrounding Jimmie 
and listen to what is being said. 

What is being said is all the same color and 
cut equal. Howinever, I am positive that Jim- 
mie did not do no pull. He is white as death 
and keeps shaking his head like there is lead 
shot in it and he is listening to it rattle.^. He 
keeps saying, “I cannot understand it, I cannot 
understand it,” over and over. No, he did not 
.do no pull. Spencer Tracy cannot act that 
good and Jimmie Winkie is not no Spencer 
Tracy. 

I mosey on off and am popping my knuckles 
and thinking when it comes over the announc- 
ing system that Winkie is not hurt none and 
will be up in the third as scheduled. 

But this does not take place, as before the 
third, Gus Wever* comes up to me and he is 
pale and his Adam's apple is riding up and 
down on his collar and he says, “Jacks, I got 
something for you to do.” 

“Shoot,” I says. 

“I want you should break the news to 
Winkie.” 

“What news?” I says. “They is not going 
to disqualify him for falling off a horse, I 
hopes.” 

“No,” Gus says. “Word has just came that 



his sister has met with a accident. 

I says, “Ditsy,” or I tries to, but it sticks in 
my throat and, some way, I finds I am grab- 
bing hold of Gus and there is guys endeavoring 
to pull us apart thinking we is having a alter- 
cation. 

“Leave go,” Gus says, shrugging them off— • 
he is a big guy — “I am asking Jacks, peaceful, 
if he will tell Winkie his sister has met with 
a fatal accident. He is a friend of Winkie and 
if your sister is dead, it is better it comes from 
a friend. That is all I am asking, I, myself, 
cannot do it.” 

So I does it. 

When we gets there everything is confusion. 
There is people everywhere and a important- 
acting guy is asking the maid questions, only 
this does not do no good as she is setting in a 
chair having hysterics. And there is other men 
down on their knees examining the floor and 
blowing powder on the doorknobs and there is 
a doctor putting his stuff away in a little black 
bag. ‘ 

And there is Ditsy. 

It does not look like Ditsy. It does not look 
human even. It is just a smashed-in, crumpled- 
up thing what is wearing Ditsy 's clothes, and 
it has blood all over. 

It reminds me of the way Tod Beemis looks 
when he is drug out and laid on a shutter 
after he is caught in a stall with a crazy stal- 
lion. Kind of . . . kind of . . . trampled-looking. 
It makes me feel kind of numblike, like maybe 
I has got a scream in me that has froze solid 
before it can get out. 

The important-acting guy, by now, has saw 
us and advances forward. 

“The maid, here,” he says, “says she left 
Miss Winkie setting by the window and hold- 
ing a bridle in her lap. Mooning jover it kind 
of, she says. She goes downstairs, the maid 
does, and she has riot no more’n got good and 
down when she hears a racket and she runs 
back up fast as she can and it is like this. We 
has not touched nothing. This,” he, says 
pointing to a scruffed-looking place on the rug, 
“I guess is where she fell down and got up 
again, and this”— pointing to a spot where the 
plaster has been gouged out of the wall — “this 
here is where whoever done it must of swung 
and missed — and, from the evidence, whoever 
must of done it was strong as a horse. And 
this here is the bridle she was holding, which 
looks as if it was tore out of her, hands and—” 
He pauses and squints at Jimmie. “Hey,” he 



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says, “you do not look like no coroner, who are 
you?” 

“He is her brother,” I says, and my voice 
seems to come from some far-off place and 
does not seem to belong to me at all. 

. “Oh,” the man says embarrassed. “1 am 
sorry, buddy. X did not know about you being 
related to the deceased. I am mighty sorry.” 

Jimmie does not answer. He is looking at 
the bridle like it is Lazarus arose from the 
dead and it is plain he is going to keel over. 

He puts out his hand, as if he is in a trance, 
and takes the bridle from the man. 

“It is all right,” X says, “it is his bridle. 
Leave him have it. X will take him out of 
here.” Which X do as they bring in a wicker 
basket and set it down by this thing on the 
floor around which they draws a white chalk 
mark before . . . before they — 

Guess I must be coming down with a cold. 
Yeah. Sure X will have another one. Just 
to wet my whistle. X seems to be kind of 
dried up like. Talking too much, X guess. 
There is times, though, when you has got to 
get it out of your system — the cold, X mean. 
Ye^h. Well, here’s to nothing, mister. If you 
got nothing, you got nothing to lose and, even 
if you does, it stands to advantage. 

What did who win after what? Oh, Winkie. 
He does not win no more. And does not lose 
no more. Because he does not ride no more. 
No, X mean no more. Never. You see, he . . . 
he bumped hisself off. X took it for granted 
you knew. 

Yeah. Yeah. It was one of them things. 
After Ditsy — why, he kind of went haywire. 
X tried talking to him. Thought if he got to 
riding again it would take his mind off what it 
was brooding on. No, no, they never did 
catch whoever done it. I wish they had of. 
If X could of got just within reaching dis- 
tance — 

No, Jimmie would not pay no attention tp 
me. He would just set there staring straight 
ahead and sometimes he would look at me like 
he could see clean through my backbone and 
out the other side. 

“Do not bother none, Jacks,” he would say. 
“You do not understand. It was my fault. X 
should of knowed.” 

And X would say, “Do not be like that. 
Them . . . them kind of accidents is figured out 
statistical. You could not of knowed in a 
million years.” 

THE 



“X was wrong. X was the one who had the 
blind abcess. Not Ditsy,” he would say. 
Morose, see. Only I thought he would snap 
out of it, eventual. But he does not. When 
he snaps, he snaps the other way. 

X remember the night that he done it. I set 
up with him until midnight talking up Parvalu, 
which Colonel Crandall wanted him to ride in 
the Bay Shore. I says, “Look here, Jimmie, 
if you will just get out and mix around some, 
you will be O. K.” And X says, “Do not forget 
what you always said: ‘You can shake grief 

or sorrow, you can bury remorse — but you can’t 
never lose the feel o’ a horse/ ” 

“Yeah,” he says, and he looks at me for the 
first time like he really sees me. “Yeah,” he 
says, straightening up, “you can shake grief 
or sorrow, you can bury remorse . . . bury re- 
morse — ” 

“But you can’t never lose the feel o’ a horse,” 
X finishes for him. 

“Yeah,” he says — slow. “Yeah, that is it.” 

So X goes home brightened up, thinking X 
has at last got him squared around and the 
next morning — it is in the papers. 

They was two thoroughbreds, themi;wo was.' 
Yessir, two thoroughbreds that, some way, got 
boxed on a inside turn. 

What’s that? Bridle? Oh, that. X had it 
buried with Jimmie. He had made a will leav- 
ing everything he possessed to me. Can you 
beat it? That is the kind of guy he was. 
Yeah. Oh, X could of kept it if X had of had a 
mind to, but bridles is cheap and he had set 
such a store by that one that it did not seem 
right to keep it. Besides, X could not ever of 
used it and kept my mind on what X was 
doing. He ... he hung, hisself with it, see. 
He was out of his head with grief, that is all. 
He did not think.. Jimmie was not no coward 
to take the easy way out. X know that. But 
X could not of had it around me just the same. 
So X buried it with him. Holding the reins in 
his hand. X think he would of liked it if he 
could of knowed. 

Well, bottoms up. I got to be going. 

Thanks, brother, and the same to you. It 
has been a pleasure. No, I do not reckon you 
will be seeing me in no papers, unless it is the 
funny papers. Did I not tell you? Horses 
has got a habit of slowing down when X am up 
on them. Like they has got a dead weight 
swinging on the bridle holding them back. 
They calls me Jinx. Yeah. Jinx Jackson. 

Well, so long, buddy. 

END. 



03 UNKNOWN WORLDS 



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/ 








M&W do others see you — what queer distortions would a bootblack, 
to whom a man is a pair of dusty shoes , or a barber, to whom he is a 
head, mostly bald, with a fringe that needs cutting, see of a man — 



Illustrated by Kramer { 



It was five o’clock. - The girls were getting to take any notes for .the next ten minutes, for 
ready to go home and the city salesmen were she knew her boss quite as well as he thought 
beginning to come trooping in. Mr. J. C. he knew everybody else. This was the “psychic 
Chisholm, sales manager of the Pinnacle Office hour,” as she caustically referred to it when 
& Household Appliance Corp., folded his outside the smothering confines of POHAC’s. 
pudgy hands across his ample middle and sat It amused Mr. Chisholm to display his keen 
back in his chair to watch the daily ritual going powers of observation and his uncanny judg- 
on beyond the clear-glass partition that sepa- ment of people. So she waited with a hard, set 
rated his office from the salesmen’s room. A ; face for his first prediction. She knew that he 
bland smile was on his pink face and a stranger would look at her from time to time to get her 
might have said that he appeared to be beam- reaction, but she was ready for that. She had 
ing with satisfaction and good will. At any a little frozen smile and a gleam to put into 
rate, the smile was there, and, as a matter of her tired eyes that she could flash on and off 
fact, Mr. Chisholm was quite satisfied with like a light, but she reserved those until they 
himself. There was not the slightest doubt in were demanded. 

his mind — and the incoming orders up to that “Har-rum,” he observed, “Miss Carrick has 
hour were added proof of it — that he was the now finished dabbing her nose. In exactly 
best little old sales manager POHAC had ever forty-three seconds she will fold her typewriter 
had. Consequently, he viewed theactivities under - and slam the lid. Then she will go to 
beyond the partition with the utmost amia- the window and look at the sky. It is cloudy, 
bility. so she will put on her galoshes and take an 

Miss Maizie Delmar, his secretary, sat beside umbrella.” 
him, her notebook on her knee and her pencil He started his stop watch. Miss Delmar 
poised in anticipation of any weighty utterance sighed inaudibly and waited. Of course he 
he might see fit to make. Not that she expected was right. Miss Carrick was an elderly and 



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sour spinster and decidedly “set in her ways/’ 
She was as predictable as sunset and the tides. 

‘‘Forty-four seconds/’ he announced, trium- 
phantly, snapping off the watch at the bang of 
the desk top. “Don’t tell me. I know these 
people like a book. Nobody can slip anything 
over old J. C.” 

Miss Trevelyan was the next subject for 
prophecy. She had a well-established routine 
that was almost as rigid as that of Miss Car- 
rick, though she was of a different type. Miss 
Trevelyan was a baby-doll beauty of the Betty 
Boop variety and with the voice to match. At 
the moment she was regarding herself anxiously 
in a ridiculously small compact minor, tilting 
her head this way and that with quick birdlike 
jerks so as to better scrutinize nose, cheeks, eyes 
and ears. After that, as J. C. gleefully foretold, 
would come the powdering, the lip-sticking, the 
eyebrow-brushing— in the order named — and 
eventually an elaborate tucking-in of imaginary 
wisps of vagrant hair. J. C. didn’t miss a bet. 

Then three salesmen came in. Jake Sarrat, 
the big, jovial ace of the wholesale district, 
slapped the other two on the back, hurled his 
brief case and kit into a desk drawer, made a 
brief phone call, and then went out. Old Mr. 
Firrel wore his usual somber, tired look, and 
walked slowly to the bare table they had let 
him use. He unbent his lanky and stooped six 
feet of skin and bones and began dragging 
copious sheafs of notes from his brief case. 
Those he glanced at briefly and began tearing 
up, one by one. The third, a saturnine little 
fellow who appeared to be perpetually angry, 
marched straight to his desk and began scrib- 
bling furiously on a pad of report blanks. He 
was Ellis Hardy, Chisholm’s pet. 

“Jake,” said Mr. Chisholm, confidently, “is 
working up a big case and wants to surprise 
me with it. Watch his smoke before the week 
is over. Ellis has just brought in a big one 
— stick around, we may pour a drink before 
we call it a day. As for Old Dismal, he’s quit- 
ting. The poor dope!” 

He twirled his chair around to face a ma- 
hogany cabinet. He opened the door of it, took* 
out a bottle and glass, and poured himself a 
stiff slug of rye. He tossed it off with a grunt 
and swiveled back. 

“That guy is not a salesman and never will 
be,” he snorted contemptuously. “Look at 
him! He looks like a tramp and as mournful 
as a pallbearer. When I talk to him about 
dolling himself up he says he hasn’t the dough; 
when I tell him to cheer up and wear a smile, 



he croaks about his stomach ulcers. What do 
I care how hard he works if he never brings 
the bacon in? Why, if that poor drip ever 
took a look at himself in the mirror, he’d go 
hang himself.” 

Maizie gripped her pencil harder and quoted 
softly: 

“Ah, wad some power the giftie gie us 
To see oursels as ithers see us — ” 

“That’s right,” exclaimed Mr. Chisholm. 
“You get it. Take me. I’m always on the 
lookout for that. If I didn’t watch myself, 
I might turn stout. But no, I’m wise. I don’t 
wait for people to tell me — I go to the gym 
three times a week and have a good work- 
out. The rubber says there’s not a spare ounce 
on me. There’s no crime in being big — people 
respect a big man, don’t you think?” 

“They do get out of their way,” admitted 
Maizie, flashing her stock smile, and batting 
here eyelids appreciatively. After all, he paid 
her forty a week and she had a paralyzed 
mother to support. 

“Exactly,” he continued, gratified, “and 
that’s only appearance I’m talking about. The 
big thing is personal relations. Look how often 
somebody takes me for an easy-mark and tries 
to slip something over. I fool ’em, don’t I? 
That’s because I keep studying myself. I say 
to myself, say I, ‘Look here, J. C., this bird 
thinks he’s smart; now show him you’re 
smarter/ Good system, eh? That’s what 
comes of taking an objective view of yourself. 
That’s why I keep all those psychology books 
around. You have no idea — ” 

“It must be grand to be so masterful, to be 
able to hold down such a big position . . . and 
. . . and all that,” she said, hoping the blush 
it cost her wouldn’t be noticed. 

But there was a diversion at hand. Ellis 
Hardy was approaching and she knew with- 
out being told what was about to happen. In 
line of duty she listened in — with the conni- 
vance of Miss Perkins, the PBX operator — 
on salesmen’s telephone conversations. In 
fact, she was the modest source of much of 
Mr. Chisholm’s omniscience. 

Hardy came in without the ceremony of 
knocking, and promptly sat down on top of 
Chisholm’s desk. He threw down a sheaf of 
filled-out orders. A certified check running to 
five figures was clipped to the top. 

“Got ’em,” announced Hardy with a self- 
satisfied smirk. “Eight SXV units, motor- 



95 ’ UNKNOWN WORLDS 

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driven, complete with accessories and a year's 
supply. That’s for the head office. I sold ’em 
four more for the branches.” 

“Attaboy!” responded Chisholm, doing an- 
other rightabout-face. This time he set out 
three glasses with the bottle. “Moore & Fen- 
tress, eh? I told you they would be push- 
overs, Don’t ever say I don’t give you the 
breaks — that was like getting money from 
home.” ^ ; 

‘TJh-buh;’’ admitted Hardy, with a reluc- 
tant grin. “Of course that sap Firrel — ” 
“Never- mind Firrel,” snapped Chisholm, 
‘Til handle him. The money’s the thing ” 
“Oh, sure,” said Hardy, “as soon as my check 
comes through — ” 

“Drink up,” said Chisholm, waving a depre- 
cating hand. There was no need of Maizie 
knowing too much — she was discreet and loyal 
and all that, but still — 

Firrel was at the door, standing hesitantly 
as if unwilling to interrupt the conference go- 
ing on, but fidgeting as if anxious to be on his 
way. 

“Scram, Ellis,” said Chisholm, seeing the 
gaunt old man. “Let me hear what this egg’s 
wail 19 ” 

Hardy grinned his sour grin and stepped out, 
giving Mr. Firrel but the curtest nod in pass- 
ing. Firrel came in, and not being invited to 
sit, stood awkwardly before the desk, Maizie 
felt sorry for the man. He was so earnest, so 
sincere, such a hard worker — yet he had been 
with them more than a month and the few 
commissions he had received, could hardly have 
done more than pay his carfare. It was pa- 
thetic. 

“Well?” asked Chisholm, hard and cross, as 
if annoyed at the intrusion. 

“I’m quitting,” said Firrel. “That’s all.” v 
“Suit yourself,” said Chisholm, indifferently. 
“I never begged a man to work for me and I 
can’t see myself starting now. Check out with 
Miss Delmar. Give her your kit and turn 
over the list of prospects you have been work- 
ing on — not that I think they are any good. 
It’s the rule, you know.” 

“You can go to hell,” said Mr. Firrel, very 
quietly. Maizie noticed that his knuckles were 
white and his hands tense. “I called in to see 
Mr. Fentress this afternoon. He told me to. 
That was a week ago. He said that they had 
to await the authorization of their Board of 
Directors before signing an order. I found out 
what had happened.” 



“So what?” roared Chisholm savagely. “Do 
you think we could keep open if we ran on a 
sometime, if and when basis? Alibis are all 
you ever have ... at the end of the quarter 
. . . when they take the inventory . . when 
Mr. Goof us gets back from the West Coast. 
We want business now . That’s why I sent 
Hardy when they called up this morning and 
wanted to know why our man hadn’t been 
around. He doesn’t stall and make alibis for 
himself. He gets ’em on the dotted line. I 
couldn’t let you muff a . big order like this 
one.” 

Chisholm waved the order under his nose, 
then laid it face down so the amount on the 
check would not show. 

“Of course,” the sales manager went on, in 
that I-iean-o vetr-back ward-being-a-good-f ello w 
manner he assumed at times, “if you really feel 
that you have anything coming to you for 
what preliminary work you did, I’m sure I 
can make Hardy see, it that way. He’ll cut 
you in. That’s a promise. Would a twenty, 
say, help out?” 

He pulled out his wallet and opened it. 
Maizie took one glance at the smoldering 
hatred and contempt in the weary eyes of the 
man before the desk and then hastily dropped 
her own to the notebook on her knee. If only 
someone would sock the porcine jowl of her 
detested employer! 

“You heard me,” said Firrel with a cold dis- 
tinctness that cut. “You can go to hell.” 

He turned abruptly and walked out. A mo- 
ment later the outer door slammed. 

“Never mind trying to piece out his tom 
prospect cards, Maizie,” said POHAC’s emi- 
nently successful sales manager. “We have a 
file of his daily reports. Hardy can work just 
as well from those.” 

“Yes, sir,” said Maizie. Her rent was over- ' 
due, and the doctor had said — 

She swept out of the office and down the 
hall to the washroom. Her nails were biting 
into her palms and her eyes were brimming. 

“Oh, the louse,” she moaned over and over, 
again, “the louse, the dirty, dirty louse! If 
I were only a man — ” 

Then those lines of Burns came to mind 
again: 

“0, wad some power the giftie gie us — ” 

“That would do,” she cried fervently. “Hang 
himself! If he only saw himself as I see him, 
he’d be lucky if he could, hang himself. 



UNKNOWN WORLDS 96 

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Seven o'clock came. Mr. Chisholm took one 
final snort before putting on his hat and turn- 
ing out the lights. He must be in fine form 
when he met Mr. Lonigan. Lonigan was an 
important buyer 'and he was coming in on the 
Rocket at seven thirty. The evening was al- 
ready planned. He was to meet the buyer, 
take him to dinner, then meet the McKittricks 
in the lobby of the Palace Theater. Mr. Mc- 
Kittrick was the president pf POHAC and had 
six box seats for the show. With him would 
be Mrs. McKittrick, Mrs. Chisholm, and a 
certain very personable young woman whom 
the company employed from time to time to 
fill in on just such occasions. It promised to 
be a gay evening, and as soon as he had a 
chance to whisper to the big boss about the 
order he had topped the day off with, even 
McKittrick would concede that he had the 
best sales manager, ever* 



Chisholm jabbed the elevator button, 
whistling merrily as he stood back to watch 
the oscillations of the telltale above the door. 

“Nice night, Jerry/' he said cheerily to the 
elevator man. 

“A very nice night, sir," agreed Jerry. But 
he never took his eyes off the column of blink- 
ing ruby lights before his nose. Mr. Chisholm 
was to be the most mistrusted when he was 
in a benign mood. It was usually the come-on 
for some probing and tricky questions. Like, 
“I saw Mr. Naylor get in your car awhile ago. 
What a card! He’s higher’n a kite tonight. 
Ha , ha ” Any response to a remark of that 
sort was sure to mean trouble for somebody. 

Chisholm was in an expansive mood and 
strode along as if he owned’ the earth. He felt 
fine. It did not matter that ten of his men 
had quit that week, and not all of them had 
been as restrained as old .man Firrel in their 



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good-bys. What did he care for the weak 
sisters? An ad in tomorrow’s papers would 
fill up the anteroom with forty more. If they 
- clicked— weeks from now — so much the better; 
if not, how could he lose? POHAC’s sales 
department was strictly a straight commission 
outfit. 

He turned through the park. ’ It was not 
only a short cut but pleasanter walking, ex- 
cept for the beggars One met him and whined 
for a cup of coffee, but Chisholm growled at 
him and stalked on by. Farther on he--came 
to a place where the path passed through some 
heavy shrubbery. There were deep shadows 
there and he hesitated a. moment. He would 
have felt better if a policeman were in sight. 
Then he reminded himself of what puny crea- 
tures most of the panhandlers were and of his 
own brawn. He walked on. 

A man was coming toward him. Just as he 
supposed, the man was another beggar. He 
asked for a dime. Chisholm ~ realized it was 
dark where he was and thought perhaps a dime 
was cheap insurance against an argument. He 
_ stopped and groped in his change pocket for 
the coin. At that moment something hap- 
pened. The beggar suddenly grasped his right 
arm, while another man stepped out of the 
bushes and grabbed his left. At the same in- 
stant someone from the rear locked an arm 
about his throat and lifted. He was off his 
feet and choking — skilled hands were explor- 
• ing his pockets— -he kicked and squirmed only 
to feel the viselike grip on his neck tighten 
maddeningly. There was an inward plop and 
something cracked just under his skull with a 
sharp detonation and a blinding flare of light. 
Mr. Chisholm had been brutally mugged. Mr. 
Chisholm was quite dead. 

Two hours and a quarter later a group of 
four were still waiting impatiently in the foyer 
of the Palace. An angry man from St. Louis 
sat in the back of a cafeteria eating his sup- 
per. He had not been met at the station as 
promised; neither the office phone, nor Mc- 
Kittrick’s or Chisholm’s home phones had an- 
swered. Not that he minded missing Chisholm 
particularly — he had always thought him a 
phony — but he did like the McKittricks. The 
party at the theater were equally angry, though j 
they showed it less. 

“Well,” remarked Mrs. McKittrick acidly 
to her husband in a moment when the others 
were occupied, “how much longer are you go- 



ing to wait for that stuffed-shirt of a head 
salesman of yours?” 

“One minute— no more,” said McKittrick, 
glaring at his watch. “If it’s any comfort to 
you, he’s being canned as of coming Monday. 

The office turnover since he’s been in charge - \ 
is something scandalous.” 

In the other corner of the foyer the smartly 
gowned creature brought along for the delecta- 
tion of Mr. Lonigan was growing restive also. 

She turned to Mrs. Chisholm. 

“Whatever could have happened to your 
husband?’”she asked sweetly. 

“Drunk, I suppose,” answered Mrs. Chis- 
holm calmly. “I hope so. I hear this is a good 
show and I want to enjoy it, even if we have 
missed half the first act. My husband, you 
know, fancies himself as a dramatic critic. He 
is quite unbearable, I assure you.” 

“Oh, really?” said the fair young thing. It 
was best to be noncommittal,.- she thought, 
though she had been secretly wondering for 
some time how long Mrs. Chisholm No. 3 was 
going to stick it oiit; No other Mrs. Chisholm 
had ever finished out the first year, despite 
the Chisholm legend of what a “way” he had 
with the gals. . 

“Let’s go on in,” said Mr. McKittrick, pock- 
eting his watch. 

It was about then that the park police stum- 
bled across the defunct sales manager’s bro- 
ken form. It was already a long time after 
Mr. Chisholm, had temporarily forgotten all 
about Hardy and Firrel and Maizie and Loni- 
gan and the theater party. For in some places 
a matter of a couple of hours or so seems 
longer. It was that way where Mr. Chisholm 
was. 

First, there was all that tiresome marching. 
Chisholm found himself on a vast gray plain 
under a dull leaden sky, marching, marching, 
marching. It was odd that it tired him so, 
for it was effortless and timeless and the dis- 
tances, though interminable, seemed meaning- 
less. It must have been the monotony of it. 

And then, also, he found those marching with 
him strangely disturbing. Some were healthy- 
looking men like himself, except that most of 
them were gashed or mangled in some way, as 
if hurled through plate glass or smashed by 
bombs. - Others were haggard and pallid, as if 
coming from sickbeds. But iCwas the soldiers 
that got him most. He had forgotten about 
the war. It had touched him but slightly, •• 
though his impressions of it had been irritating, 



UNKNOWN WORLDS 98 

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but not in a flesh and blood way The silly 
business of priorities, price controls and sales 
taxes had annoyed him exceedingly, and the 
outrageous income-tax boosts had infuriated 
him. Now he was getting another slant oh 
the conflict, for hordes — armies — of soldiers 
were marching along with him. They were of 
every kind — Russians, Japs, Tommies, Nazis, 
even American bluejackets and soldiers — and 
mingled with them were miserable-looking ci- 
vilians of every race. A pair of wretched- 
looking Polish Jews walking near him had ob- 
viously been hanged but a short time before. 
Chisholm edged away from them in horrified 
disgust. 

He was beginning to tumble to the fact 
that he was dead, and was getting restive with 
the monotonous tramping across the plain. 
He had never been a devout man, or even a 
philosophical one, so he had little idea of what 
to expect, except that certain childhood memo- 
ries or notions kept intruding themselves upon 
his consciousness. Wasn't there some sort of 
trial coming to him? Not that the prospect 
worried him much. At least, not very much. 
For he had always dealt justly with people ac- 
cording to his lights, he insisted to himself. 
He couldn't help it if there were venal people, 
or weaklings, or would-be tough eggs that had 
to be pushed around. Nobody could be ex^ 
pected to get through life without handling 
such types in the most appropriate way. But 
where, or where, was the judge that would pass 
judgment? 

After a time the crowd grew thinner. At 
length the shade of Chisholm noted that he 
was virtually alone and treading a narrow path 
that led upward over a shadowy hill. There 
was no one ahead of him or alongside, but fol- 
lowing him at a distance was a considerable 
multitude of other shades of his own kind. 
He supposed that shortly after his own un- 
fortunate encounter with the thugs a catastro- 
phe of some sort had developed locally. He 
could not resist the malicious half hope that 
it might have been a theater fire. Somehow 
it irked him that his latest wife should still 
be alive and fattening on his property while 
he was tramping these gray wilds. Nor would 
it have upset him to know that McKittrick 
had been caught in the same disaster. Mc- 
Kittrick, in his estimation, was a pompous ass 
whom he would have shown up if he could 
have lived just a little longer. As far as that 
went, he could also have viewed with equa- 
nimity the decease of the girl that was brought 




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along for Lonigan. He hadn’t forgotten the “or the reverse. Notorious, you know.” 
smart of her recent rebuff of him, the little Chisholm didn’t know. He had a reputa- 
cat! tion, he knew, as a go-getter and a good fellow. 

With such thoughts in mind, he topped the but it was a modest one — restricted to his cus- 
rise and saw a wall with a gate in it before tomers, his salesmen, and people he met casu- 
him. The gate was open, so he went on in. ally. He hardly expected this turn-out. More- 
He halfway expected to be stopped, or at least over, he couldn’t recognize anybody in the 
greeted by an angel, but things were just the hall. As he looked them over he was struck 
same inside the gate as out — except that there with one singularity of the. crowd. Many of 
was a voice. The voice cried out in the' man- them bore a family resemblance to him, some 
ner of a train announcer, deep and booming, rather close, others fantastically distorted. The 
“The prototype of Jerome Chester Chis- majority looked like three-dimensional, ani- 
holm!” ■ mated caricatures of him. One especially ob- 

Just that. That was all. noxious one kept trying to climb up onto the 

Then a. demon m'aterialized directly in front stage. He was far fatter than Chisholm him- 
of the shade of Chisholm. self had ever been or could ever have been 

“This way, Jerome,” he said very politely, even if he had skipped the gym workouts. 

He was not bad-looking — for a demon — though The demon observed the look of profound 

he was unmistakably one, having the expected distaste on Chisholm’s face, but only grinned a 
stock properties: a reddish, glistening skin, little and picked up a gavel. He rapped sharply 
stubby horns, and shiny jet-black eyes. on the table. , 

“ ‘J. C.’ is what people call me,” corrected “Come to order, please,” he said. “The con- 
Chisholm. He had never dealt with a demon vention is assembled.” 

before, but since the demon appeared to be There was a momentary hush, and then 
friendly he thought he might as well respond pandemonium broke out. It was a very dis- 
with a gesture of his own. orderly crowd and an opinionated one, from the 

“Better stick to Jerome,” advised the demon, jeers that were hurled up at the stage. • It was 
“I’ll admit, it’s not pretty, but it’s safe. When hard to pick out what they were saying, but 
you start being known by what people call you the trend of it seemed to be that practically 
— -well!” - everyone there wanted to preside or was full 

Mr. Chisholm sniffed. The demon’s words of hot ideas that demanded immediate and 
had the faint odor of a dirty crack. He was- full expression. The demon was unperturbed, 
beginning not to like the demon. Also the He was an old hand. At interval^ he would 
import of the unseen' aerial announcement was bang with the gavel. At last he got a tiny bit 
puzzling him. What did 'it mean by calling of silence. 

him the “prototype” of himself? It didn’t “Fellow heels,” he commenced, unblush- 
make sense. ingly, then paused to see what uproar would 

follow. There was none. His insult had 
The demon was skittering along ahead, pay- quieted the tumult like oil on ruffled waters, 
ing very little attention to Chisholm, who was He cleared his throat and went on. 
following along meekly enough. Presently a “We are gathered here to form the ghost of 
large building loomed ahead. As they ap- Jerome Chester Chisholm, deceased, erstwhile 
proached Chisholm could see that it was an sales manager of the Pinnacle Office & 
auditorium of some kind. He could also see Household Appliance Corp. We have all 
that the mob of shades were close behind and eternity, to be sure, but why waste it? 
that they had no guiding demon with them. Coalesce, please, as rapidly as possible. For 
Evidently they were following blindly in his purposes of comparison, your prototype is 
own tracks. standing here beside me. Take it or leave it. 

The demon turned into the door of the build- That’s your affair.” 
ing and led the way up to its stage. It was There were howls of “Chuck him out,” 
an auditorium. By the time they had reached “chiseler,” “heel,” “stuffed shirt,” and many, 
the platform, the crowd of ghosts behind were many less elegant epithets. Then an ominous 
crowding into the place.. They soon filled it silence descended. The demon quietly pointed 
from wall to wall. to a spot on the stage and the procession 

“You must have been a pretty popular fel- started. One by one the specters mounted the 
low,” remarked the demon, looking them over, stage, marched to the spot and stood on it. 



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Succeeding ones came on, each melting im- 
perceptibly into the one that had been there 
before. Gradually the resultant figure took 
on more definite shape and looked far more 
solid than any single shade in the hall. For 
many of them were so tenuous as to be hardly 
visible. 

“Would you mind, sir asked Mr. Chisholm, 
not knowing any better way to address a 
demon, “telling me what this is all about? And 
after this monkey business is over, when do 
I get my trial?” 

“Trial?” The demon laughed. “In one 
sense you have had your trial. This is the 
result. In another sense, this is your trial. In 
either case, the verdict is already found and 
the sentence fixed.” 

“I don’t get you,” said Mr. Chisholm. “Who 
are all these . . . er . „ . spooks? And what 
have they got to do with me? They look like a 
flock of comic Valentines.” 

“They have plenty to do with you. They 
are you.” 

“Me! You’re crazy. I’m me.” He struck 
himself on the chest. 

“No. You are only one aspect of you,” cor- 
rected the demon. “You are a ghost now, and 
nothing more. Ghosts are intangible, imma- 
terial things — made of dream stuff, as your 
poets say. What you call you is your own 
estimate of you. These creatures flocking up 
onto the stage are other people’s estimates of 
you. You — the you that we recognize — is the 
composite of them all. Stick around. You 
are going to learn something.” , 

Chisholm turned his gaze back at the on- 
coming file of shades. They were ghastly car- 
toons of himself, and malicious ones at that. 
Many of them were unintelligible. 

“Hey,” he said, “what’s that thing coming 
up — that slender wisp of smoke with the 
lumpy feet? If that is a conception of me, 
the guy that thought it up has gone surreal- 
istic” 

The demon looked. 

“Oh, that. Yes, it’s weak. It is offered 
by a fellow named Percy Hilyer. .He roomed 
with you at school and has almost forgotten 
you. He does remember that you were lean 
and lanky then and used to swipe his socks and 
wear holes in them.” 

“That’s a hell of a thing to hold against a 
guy,” complained Chisholm. 

The demon shrugged. 

“That is the way reputations are made. How 



One way to make a living . . . 

But an artificial, impermanent sort of 
career it was — being a mercenary hired 
to defend (or attack) various domed cities 
in a civilization that lived under the sea. 



- The hero of the story was a camouflage 
expert — and he did a good {ob on a par- 




ticular battleship . . . but— there just wasn°t 
any future to it. 

Don't miss CLASH BY NIGHT, novelette 
by Lawrence O'Donnell in the March 
issue of 



auog 5aemc@- 

Ll NEWSSTANDS 



on 



UNKNOWN WORLDS 



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do you like this one?” 

“This one” was the rambunctious shade 
who had tried to take charge of the meeting 
at the outset. He was egregiously repulsive. 

“That,” announced the demon blandly, “is 
the contribution of one Maizie Delmar. Judg- 
ing from its robustness and solidity, she knew 
you recently and well.” 

Chisholm’s jaw had dropped and his eyes 
bulged. The thing was incredible. Not 
Maizie’s. Maizie was regular; dumb, maybe, 
but they got along. 

“I take it Maizie was the tactful sort,” re- 
marked the demon with a sly drawl, noting 
the amazement on Chisholm’s loose'face. Then, 
“Here comes one that might suit you better.” 
It was a fat, squally baby, drooling and 
flapping its pudgy arms. 

“One of your mother’s contributions. Her 
favorite of many. You might admire some, 
but they are all on the helpless side — not at 
all in keeping with your hardboiled idea of 
the way to do things.” 

Chisholm stood aghast and watched the end- 
less procession. On they came, one vile carica- 
ture after another. Nobody seemed to have 
forgotten him. He expected the specter fur- 
nished by Firrel to be bad. It was. Malice 
was not its creator, but sheer contempt. Chis- 
holm had to„turn his face when it clambered 
up onto the stage. The office girls’ offering 
differed little from Maizie’s except in intensity. 
The one held by Hardy was a cruel surprise. 
He had done so much for Hardy. But he had 
forgotten how he had made Hardy pay through 
the nose for favors. 

The greatest shocks were to follow. He 
steeled himself for whatever opinions those 
first two wives held, but the current one had 
, done a devastating job of analysis. Even the 
demon whistled. Interspersed between the 
major blows were minor ones, and not always 
shadowy. Bootblacks, waiters, taxi drivers — - 
on almost every casual contact he had left a 
mark. Out of the lot there was only one that 
was glowingly heroic. He could not refrain 
from asking the demon about it. The demon 
bent his insight onto the wraith and pro- 
nounced: 

“A girl you met once — a pick-up. You 
kissed her on the Drive that night, and then 
lost her phone number, you lucky dog.” 
“Lucky?” 

“Yes. She never had a chance to know you 
better.” 

THE 



Mr. Chisholm was glum. It wasn’t right 
to be pilloried that way. They simply couldn’t 
do that to him. To hell with what all those 
people thought. Who were they, anyhow? 
A lot, of nitwit salesmen and office help, gold- 
diggers and climbers! He knew he was all 
right. He had got along. They were jealous 
and envious, that’s what. He nudged the 
demon. 

“Hey,” he called, “this is a democracy, ain’t 
it? If these soreheads have a vote, so do I. 
Don’t I come in?” - - 

“Sure, sure. It ought to help a lot, too. 
All these figures are weighted, you have no- 
ticed, by degree of intimacy and one thing or 
another. Since you have probably thought 
more about yourself than anybody else has, 
even if you’ve been wrong most of the time, 
your opinion counts.” . 

Chisholm looked down at himself confi- 
dently, and then his confidence began to ooze. 
His own personality, it appeared, even when 
viewed from his own standpoint, was more 
nebulous than he thought. He had never 
taken himself apart with the critical fury em- 
ployed by such persons as Maizie, his wives 
and some others. It looked as if the almost- 
finished monstrosity standing in the center 
of the stage was going to be the image handed 
down to posterity. 

“It’s not fair,” he wailed. “What do all those 
yapping people really know about me — mo- 
tives, and all that? I never did anything I 
didn’t. think was right, I never — ” 

“Neither did Nero,” said the demon calmly, 
“nor^ Torquemada, nor your estimable con- 
temporary, Hitler. Nevertheless, we cannot 
take an Ego at its own valuation. Not where 
others are involved.” 

Chisholm took a shuddering look at the hid- 
eous thing that was the* summation of all his 
world thought of him. It was intolerable. 
That, then, was the verdict the demon had 
spoken of. 

“Your sentence,” said the demon, as if he 
knew the thought, “is to contemplate it from 
now on. It is all yours — your life’s work. 
At least it’s definite, if that is any consola- 
tion.” 

“I can’t, I can’t,” moaned Mr. Chisholm. 

“Don’t make things worse,” warned the 
demon. * 

The composite spook had just turned a 
bright, lemon yellow. 

END. 



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OUT OF SPACE AND TIME, by Clark Ash- 
ton Smith. (Sauk City) , Arkham House, 

1942; xii+370 pp.; $3. 

Great fantasy deserves the permanence of 
covers; and all fantasy followers must feel 
deeply indebted to August Derleth for running 
the risks which commercial publishers are so 
reluctant to incur. 

Arkham House! That very name, to the 
initiate, calls up visions of unmentionable hor- 
ror from outer space, of unspeakable gibbering 
shapes in subterranean vaults, of the abomin- 
able “Necronomicon” of the mad Arab, Abdul 
Alhazred. 

And the works that bear the Arkham im- 
print have not been unworthy of the connota- 
tions of that great name: first “Someone in the 
Dark/’ a collection of Berleth’s best pulp 
work, then “The Outsider and Others,” the 
monumental omnibus volume of H. P. Love- 
craft, and now this selection from the works 
of Clark Ashton Smith. 

It is a surprise to the fantasy devotee to 
learn how many pursuits Smith has practiced. 
According to Berleth’s introduction, he has 
been “a journalist, a fruit picker and packer, 
a woodchopper, a typist, a cement mixer, a 
gardener, a hard-rock miner, mucker and wind- 
lasser.” He is known to a small circle as an 
exotic painter and sculptor, and his poetry has 
received the praise of William Rose Benet. 

But he is probably most widely known as the 
outstanding disciple of H. P. Lovecraft, a 
disciple, in fact, who was not without his in- 
fluence in turn upon the master. 

Lovecraft is indubitably the most influential 
figure in American fantasy since Poe. (It was 
pleasing to observe in a recent Saturday Re- 
view that Stephen Vincent Benet is a Love- 
craft fan.) He created an entire mythology 
and cosmogony so coherently, so cogently that 
references to Cthulhu and Yuggoth are now 
more readily understood by many than allu- 
sions to Greek mythology. 

Smith has taken over this mythology, add- 
ing to it, embroidering on it until it is hard to 
say what is Smith and what is Lovecraft. (His 
sculptures, too, bear such titles as “Cthulhu” 
and “The Outsider.”) Smith himself created 
“The Book of Eibon,” which rivals the “Necro- 
nomicon,” and the histories of the demon- 



ridden French country of Averoigne and of 
Zothique, the last continent on earth. 

The Lovecraft influence is perhaps fading 
now, with the rise of the newer, school of fan- 
tasy exemplified by de Camp or Sturgeon or 
Rice; but the best of the Lovecraft school 
remains incomparable for the creation of the 
dire extremities of horror. And Smith, because 
he is a poet and a craftsman, has produced by 
far the best work in the Lovecraft tradition. 

How much Smith himself has added to the 
field of fantasy is more difficult to estimate. 
In most of his work the echoes of Lovecraft 
and Bunsany drown out his own voice. Pos- 
sibly two features, aside from the sometimes 
self-conscious, sometimes macabrely evocative 
poetic prose, are distinctively Smith. 

One, which is odd in a man experienced in 
so many workaday fields, is the absoluteness 
of his fantasy. Lovecraft wove his mythos into 
our everyday life until we were haunted by the 
suspicion that the world was a dark and un- 
certain place. Smith rather transports us to 
dark and uncertain worlds and relates their 
appalling histories. These are wonderful and 
horrible; but they happened long ago or are 
to happen long hence — they do not bring you 
up against the choking realization that it is 
darker than you think. 

The other, Smith's most important contribu- 
tion, is a guignol irony — a gentle skill in telling 
that which is so inhumanly fabulous as to be 
neither horrible nor farcical, but balances on 
the razor edge between the shudder and the 
titter. Read “The Monster of the Prophecy,” 
my own favorite Smith story, or “The Testa- 
ment of Athammaus,” and try to analyze your 
reaction. 

The corpse of a strychnine victim wears on 
its face a sardonic smile. That smile is as 
exact an expression as any of the sensations 
evoked by these unique Smith grotesques. 

There is much else in this volume, almost 
four hundred pages of magnificent fantasy 
reading. There are three stories of Averoigne. 
There is the novelette, “The City of the Sing- 
ing Flame,” which is something akin to science- 
fiction, but transfigured by Smith’s extraor- 
dinary visual imagination. There are stories 
of Zothique, including the nightmarish “The 
Bark Eidolon,” and of Hyperborea, including 
possibly the most popular of Smith’s works, 



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"The Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan ” There 
is the interplanetary horror of "The Vaults of 
Yoh-Vombis,” which gave me my first authen- 
tic shudder in some time, and there are two 
exquisitely melancholy prose poems never 
printed in popular magazines. - - 

The jacket, as is meet and fitting, is designed 
by Hannes Bok. Which is only one more rea- 
son why no self-respecting fantasy collector can 
afford to pass up this admirable volume. 

Anthony Boucher. 



THE MIDNIGHT READER, edited and with 

an introduction by Philip van Doren Stern. 

564 pp. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 

1942. $2.75. 

Subtitled "Great Stories of Haunting and 
Horror/’ this is the latest addition to the long 
list of weird collections that have already ap- 
peared. . Like all such anthologies, it may be 
judged from two viewpoints: that of the 

average reader, whose excursions into the 
bizarre are relatively few, and that of those 
who go in for fantastic fiction more thoroughly. 
To the former, it rates a classification of "excel- 
lent,” but to the latter, including regular read- 
ers of Unknown Worlds, it cannot be as un- 
reservedly recommended. 

Mr. Stem’s criterion in the selection of ma- 
terial — "the capacity to induce physical reaction 
in the reader” — is an excellent one, and the 
fifteen stories used show that he has adhered to 
it: every one is superb. Moreover, the average 
person can see at a glance that the roster of 
authors is impressive". And can more be asked 
for? Indeed, yes. 

There are a number of tales which the regu- 
lar fantasy reader has encountered several 
times elsewhere. "The Telltale Heart,” "The 
Turn of the Screw,” "The Willows,” "The 
Mark of the Beast,” "The Upper Berth” — all 
these are unquestioned masterpieces. But they 
are already universally available. Likewise, 
other anthologies have duplicated W. F. Har- 
vey’s "August Heat,” Edith Wharton’s "After- 
ward” and Alexander Woollcott’s "Full Fathom 
Five,” as well as "The Familiar,” by J. S. Le 
Fanu and Charlotte Gilman’s "Yellow Wall- 
paper.” Inclusion of the latter two is perhaps 
justified, as they seem not to have gained the 
recognition they deserve; however, from the 
viewpoint of the follower of fantasy, this can- 
not be said of the remainder. 



Thus, while I have no quarrel with the qual- 
ity of "The Midnight Reader,” I could wish 
it did not rely so greatly upon the common- 
place when such a wealth ©f good— even great 
—tales never before collected might be readily 
substituted^ H. P. Lovecraft, the modern 
master; the practically unknown, yet almost 
as great William Hope Hodgson; the versatile 
E. F. Benson — these authors have never been 
adequately represented. And much classic 
material lies untouched amid the work of 
H, R. Wakefield, A. Merritt, Robert W. Cham- 
bers; M. P. Shiel, and others. But the editor 
either is not familiar with it, or shies away from 
its relative obscurity. It would be pleasant 
if a new anthology presented more of the less 
familiar. 

Nevertheless, some of the stories of Mr. 
Stern’s anthology are of the lesser-known vari- 
ety, and prove refreshing. These are "Couch- 
ing at the Door,” by D. K. Broster, which adds 
a new creature to weird literature’s gamut of 
imagined horrors; Louis Adamic’s "Milvale 
Apparition,” whose foundation of fact adds 
greatly to its realism; and "The Beckoning Fair 
One,” which will awaken interest in the com- 
paratively unknown English author, Oliver 
Onions. "Tarnhelm” is Sir Hugh Walpole’s 
clever variation on what Anthony Boucher 
has called the therianthropy theme, and M. R. 
James displays his usual dexterity in "The 
Mezzotint.” 

The introduction to the work, which com- 
bines historical and critical matter, is interest- 
ing and informative, and most readers will side 
pretty generally with Mr. Stern’s opinion. I 
feel myself that he strikes a truthful medium, 
although I do not agree with his tendency to 
look back upon the golden age of the ghost 
story as 1898-1911. If this is a period of per- 
fection, it is perfection of a phase rather than 
a type; today there are as many, albeit dif- 
ferently slanted, ghost stories as in 1898. The 
statement that prefaced Fritz Leiber’s "Smoke 
Ghost” covers the situation nicely, I think: 
"The ghosts of yesteryear were white-swathed 
spirits haunting echoing corridors. The ghosts 
of today — may be of a different kind, things of 
grime and the stale, dead air of a city’s 
smoke — ” 

If you’re not up on your classic weird tales, 
you’ll probably enjoy rereading them; but if 
they’re still fresh in your memory, you can 
safely count on only half a dozen new ones if 
you buy "The Midnight Reader.” 

Langley Searles. 



UNKNOWN WORLDS 104 

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MIS was a thief, but worse, he teas basically 'plain, completely selfish. 
But he stole the Love Charm, the charm that protected him against any 
who came near him. Save that he forgot one small fact of entomology — ~ 



(Illustrated by Orbarx 



Mr. Benworth was troubled with pixies, a 
circumstance scarcely mitigated by the fact 
that it was his own fault. Certainly he was 
unwise to indulge in shoplifting in this par- 
ticular store. The shingle over the door should 
have warned him, for it said, “By Royal Ap- 
pointment — H. R. H. Qberon.” An unusual 
name, Qberon — and the customers of the Pixy 
Shop were quite as odd. Benworth discov- 
ered that somewhat later. 

He was a thin, dark, saturnine man in his 
forties, handsome in the manner of a Toledo 
blade, and with a depth of reserve that cov- 
ered a vile temper which could not brook op- 
position. Some years before, he had married 
a plump, helplessly pretty widow who had 
proved surprisingly shrewd — so much so that 
Benworth found himself disappointed in his 
plan to retire on Agatha Benworth’s ample 
fortune. In this case, love accepted turned to 
hate; but both parties deftly hid their real 
feelings in a so-called civilized fashion. Ben- 
worth, his hopes baffled, raised a cryptic eye- 
brow and took sadistic pleasure in making his 
wife uncomfortable, while Agatha grimly held 



on to her money and wept only in private. Her 
tears were not for Benworth, but for the fragile 
bubble she had mistaken for a reality. 

The man thought of her as a spider, avid 
to devour her mate, but the truth was some- 
what different. Humiliation and pride stiff- 
ened Agatha’s backbone for the first time in 
her life; she was willing , to be hated, but not 
despised. After a few months of marriage, it 
became uncomfortably evident that Benworth 
had looked on the lady with emotionless oon- 
tempt, seeing in her only a suitable tool-ready- 
made for his skilled hand. But Benworth, of 
course, was an intellectual snob — 

Agatha, to save her own face, had advanced 
him a sufficient sum to buy a partnership in 
the Columbus Insurance Co., but Benworth 
held little stock — not enough to give him a 
controlling vote, of course. He didn’t like 
half loaves, but he realized the wisdom of the 
truism. So at forty-four Edgar Benworth was 
married to a wife he hated, worked disinter- 
estedly at a nominal job with Columbus, and 
was passionately in love with Myra Valentine, 
the socialite actress who rivaled the Hollywood 



105 UNKNOWN WQRLBS 

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brilliant stars in glamorous publicity. 

Myra just laughed. 

For months the fires had been building up 
within Denworth’s soul. His face, with its 
high Indian cheekbones and the pallid blue 
eyes, was completely expressionless as he 
walked along Sycamore Avenue that afternoon, 
dressed with careful casualness in well-fitting 
tweeds. Fourth Street, his usual route from 
the office to the Blue Boar Bar, was being 
torn up, so, on this eventful day, Denworth 
detoured into shady, tree-lined Sycamore Ave- 
nue, with its rows of small shops and its tall 
apartment buildings. He was feeling none too 
good. 

There was reason. At the office, his con- 
servative partners had outvoted him on a point 
of business development. Myra Valentine had 
been in to alter the beneficiary of her policy, 
and had treated Denworth with humiliating 
coldness. Finally, his account at the bank was 
overdrawn, and he had had to ask Agatha for 
money. True, she had written a check with- 
out a word, but — damn her! 

There was no escape. Agatha’s death would 
alter nothing, except for the worse, since Den- 
worth would inherit little of value. He knew 
the contents of his wife’s will. And a divorce 
— no! That would mean separating from the 
safeguard of Agatha’s money. In a pinch, she 
always wrote a check; and there had been 
many pinches for Edgar Denworth lately. His 
investments were too reckless to be profit- 
able. 

It was unpleasant to feel balked at every 
step. Denworth took it as a personal jnsult 
when the cloudy sky suddenly fulfilled its 
promise and let loose with a driving shower. 
Thin lips clamped, he dived for the nearest 
shelter — an awning above the entrance of a 
small shop where, he saw at a glance, objets 
d’arte were sold. At least that was Denworth’s 
impression, after a hurried glance at the many- 
paned window. 

He lit a cigarette and looked for a cab. No 
luck. -The street was almost deserted, and 
Denworth, fuming, looked around, his atten- 
tion caught by the dripping, wind-rocked 
green shingle above the shop’s door. It was 
shield-shaped, bearing a crown of odd design, 
painted in gilt, and under the crown was the 
legend: “By Royal Appointment — H. R. H. 
Oberon.” 

Curious! 

Denworth glanced into the window, which, 



at first glance, seemed to contain an assort- 
ment of costume jewelry, of exceptionally ex- 
otic design. A small cardboard sign bore the 
following cryptic legend: 

NOTHING FOR SALE 

(@"\ A 4 1 Ys 

Denworth’s eye dwelt on the hieroglyphics, 
which didn’t seem to mean anything in par- 
ticular. Behind the sign was a twisted gadget 
of gold, either a large ring or a small brace- 
let, which was sufficiently unusual to make the 
man pause thoughtfully. Myra Valentine 
would like such a gift, Denworth knew. On 
impulse he pushed open the door and entered 
the shop. 

It was small, clean, and well lighted — a base- 
ment which had* been renovated. Denworth 
stood on a tiny metal-railed landing, from 
which steps led down to the shop itself. 
Briefly he had an impression of sudden, fur- 
tive movement, as if someone had hastily 
whisked out of sight behind a counter; but, 
when he looked again, the place was empty 
save for a pallid, ordinary-looking man who 
glanced up at Denworth in a startled fashion. 
He resembled no one in particular— a more 
colorless type Denworth had never seen. There 
was a flat, white face, a snub nose sprinkled 
with freckles, thinning mouse-brown hair, and 
a rather weak chin. 

“Oh,” said the man disappointedly. “I 
thought you were a customer.” 

Denworth nodded. Then the import of the 
words struck him, and he scowled with sur- 
prised annoyance. His voice was sharp. 

“Do I look like a panhandler?” 

The man put down the long-handled broom 
he had been using and smiled. “Why, no, sir. 
I didn’t imply that, I hope. It’s just that I 
. . . um ... I know all my customers by sound. 
I mean sight,” he added, rather hastily. 

Denworth came down into the store, glanc- 
ing around. ' A spider web floated against his 
cheek, and he brushed it away irritably. 

“That sign in your window,” he said after 
a moment’s inexplicable hesitancy. “What 
d’you meam — nothing for sale?” 

“Well, it’s an odd situation,” the pale man 
murmured. “My name’s Smith — Way land 
Smith — and I more or less inherited this busi- 



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ness. Somebody has to make these . . . um 
. . . gadgets/’ 

“ Costume jewelry?” 

“That’s it/' said Wayland Smith, too 
quickly. “Custom-made.” 

“Well, there’s one I want to buy,” Denworth 
grunted. “That gold ring in the window. Or 
is it a bracelet?” 

“The Dowser Ring?” Smith inquired. “I’m 
awfully sorry, but that’s reserved.” He fin- 
gered his broom nervously. 

Denworth scowled. “Dowser Ring? I’ve 
heard of Dowsers — they find water, or gold, 
or something like that. But I don’t see — ” 

“Have to call it something, don’t I?” asked 
Smith, betraying a slight irritation. He cast 
a furtive glance over his shoulder. Denworth 
had an odd impression that he whispered some- 
thing so softly that it was inaudible. 

The man was trying to get rid of him. That 
seemed plain enough. Denworth didn’t like 
it, especially today. His vanity was already, 
suffering contusions. For a mere shopkeeper 
to snub him — * Denworth clamped his thin 
lips together. - 

“Then I’ll buy something else,” he said. 
“Every item in the store can’t be reserved.” 

In the back, a thin voice was whispering. 
Denworth had the remarkable impression that 
he heard it with his skin. It was a thin, crawly, 
nasty little voice, and Denworth liked it not 
at all. He looked sharply at the curtains at 
the rear. They swayed slightly. 

“In a minute,” Smith said to the air, and 
turned back to Denworth. “I’m sorry, sir, but 
I'm awfully busy just naw\ I’ve got to finish 
a custom job for a customer who’s in a hurry. 
This.” He gestured toward a brassy-looking 
charm bracelet that lay alone on a small red- 
topped table. 

Denworth ignored the hint. He came for- 
ward and looked down at the bracelet. “Looks 
finished to me,” he commented. 

“It needs . . . um . . . another charm,” Smith 
said. 

Denworth moved along the aisle, staring at 
the various pieces of costume jewelry. A 
number of them — lockets, clips, brooches — 
bore inscriptions, none in English. One flat 
bronze pin said cryptically, “ Yatch ” and had 
a crux ansata under the word. 

“Unusual,” Denworth said patronizingly. 

Smith blinked. “My clients are pixilated,” 
he proffered. “Naturally ... of course.” 

“Well, I want to buy something. And don’t 



tell me your prices are high. I can guess that.” 

“I’m very sorry indeed,” the other said 
firmly, “but I simply can’t sell you anything. 
All my stock is reserved.” 

Denworth breathed deeply through his nose. 
“Then I’ll order a custom job. You’ll make 
a bracelet— or a ring? A duplicate of that one 
in the window?” 

“I’m sorry . . . no.” 

“Ever heard of the Federal trade commis- 
sion? What you’re doing is illegal — giving 
special preference to certain customers — ” 

There was a renewed outbreak of whisper- 
ing from the back. Smith jumped, said, “Ex- 
cuse me,” and hurried toward the curtains. 
He thrust his head through and muttered brief 
syllables. 

The brassy-looking charm bracelet was at 
Denworth ’s elbow. It is a regrettable fact 
that the temptation, coupled with his irritation 
at being balked, led the man to indulge in 
what was technically shoplifting. In a word, 
he swiped the bracelet. 

It was the work of a moment. As the gadget 
dropped tinkling into his pocket, Denworth 
turned and headed for the stairway. Smith 
apparently hadn’t noticed the theft. His back 
was still toward the store. 

Denworth hesitated, smiled sourly, and let 
himself out. The rain had stopped. Drops, 
clear and glistening in pale sunlight, hung in 
a row from the shingle that said, “By Royal 
Appointment — H, R. H. Qberon.” A spar- 
row was investigating a puddle nearby. 

It would be pleasant to record that Den- 
worth was already regretting his hasty act. 
Unfortunately he was not. He felt only a 
triumphant exhilaration at having outwitted 
the stubborn shopkeeper. He headed for the 
Blue Boar Bar, anxious to order a buttered 
rum. 

The sparrow cocked its head and eyed Den- 
worth with beady inquisitiveness. Abruptly 
it launched itself into the air, with a fluttering 
of feathers,, and zoomed toward the man’s 
face. Instinctively Denworth ducked. The 
sparrow came to rest on his shoulder and be- 
gan to rub its head affectionately against its 
unwilling host’s cheek. 

Denworth reacted in the normal manner. 
Small, agile things are usually more perturb- 
ing than large ones; one can, perhaps, view a 
charging great Dane with equanimity, but 
having a sparrow nestling against your neck 
makes you feel clumsy and helpless. A peck 
in the eye is singularly difficult to evade. Den- 



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worth made a hoarse, inarticulate noise and 
clawed at his shoulder. 

The sparrow flung itself madly away, but 
returned, chirping interestedly. To add to 
Den worth’s confusion, a small white dog ap- 
peared from nowhere and began to leap up at ' 
him, wagging a friendly tail. Since people 
were watching, Denworth didn’t kick the dog. 
Instead, he ducked into the Blue Boar, which 
luckily was close. The door shut out both 
sparrow and animal. 

It did not shut out — something! — that 
percolated invisibly through the glass, whis- 
pering irritably to itself. Denworth didn’t 
hear it. He was hovering over the bar, de- 
manding rum. It was a cold day, and he sipped 
the hot liquor gratefully. 

Several men were arguing noisily at the 
bar, and Denworth, glancing at them, picked 
up his glass and headed for a booth. There, 
he took out the charm bracelet and examined 
it. It seemed to be made of brass, with twisted 
figures attached to it at intervals. There was 
a knot of wire, a severed human head, an 
arrow, and other more ambiguous ornaments. 

Denworth slipped it over his wrist. Simul- 
taneously a low, sibilant voice said, “Damn! 
By the primal Nid, this is a singularly lousy 
trick to play on one.” 

“Eh?” Denworth asked automatically. The 
voice repeated, “Damn! I can’t use the True 
Seven spell. Oberon’s Rune ought to do it, 
though.” 

Denworth narrowed his eyes and looked 
around. Then he thoughtfully peered under 
the table. Finally he beckoned to the waiter. 

“Sir?” 

“Er . . . another rum.” One didn’t ask a 
waiter where disembodied voices were coming 
from. In any case it was probably a radio. 

“Thricket thracket throcket omnibandum,” 
said the rather horrid little whisper. “In 
nomine . . . damn again. It won’t work. Lis- 
ten, mister, that’s my bracelet you’re wear- 
ing.” 

Denworth didn’t say anything. His lips 
narrowed; otherwise he made no sign. There 
was a faint thump, as of a tiny fist pounding 
the table top. - 

“Did you hear me?” 

- “Voice of my conscience — ridiculous!” Den- 
worth muttered, and drank rum. There was a 
microcosmic short. 

“Always this trouble, always! Humans are 
more skeptical than kobolds. No wonder 



Oberon gave Bottom ass’ ears. All humans — ” 
There was a faint growl, like the pur of a 
cat. '“Listen,” the whisper resumed. “Way- 
land Smith was making that bracelet for me. 
I’d already paid him. Had to filch three wallets 
to get the money, too, You’re a thief, sir.” 

The paradox of this statement was too 
much for Denworth. He said something about 
stolen money, caught himself, arid looked 
around sharply. No one had noticed. * 

“But it’s our right to steal,” the voice said. 
“We’re amoral. Our ancestors never ate the 
fruit of knowledge, like yours did. All pixies 
steal.” 

“Pixies,” Denworth said under his breath. 

“TurzeeLhe Brawler’s my name. Damn 
good specimen of pixy, too. Now will you 
give me back my bracelet?” 

“I’m hearing things.” 

“You’ll hear a lot more, if you’re not care- 
ful,” the wee whisper threatened. “Father 
Nodens, if I could just get you Under the Hill 
for a night. You’d go mad. I’ve seen it hap- 
pen.” 

Denworth chewed his lip. The voice was 
too horribly logical for a delusion. Also — 

The waiter returned, bearing a full dozen 
glasses of hot buttered rum. He placed these 
before the startled Denworth, who asked natu- 
ral questions. 

“It’s all right, sir,” the man said, beaming. 
“It’s, on me. I’d like to stand you to these 
drinks, if you don’t mind. I like you.” 

He retreated before Denworth could frame 
a retort. The whisper broke out again, shrill 
with fury. 

“See? The bracelet works, all right. No 
wonder I couldn’t put a spell bn you, loath- 
some human. Not even Oberon’s Rune. I 
can’t bear to hurt you.” 

Denworth decided he had better get out of 
here. The nasty, whispering voice was extra : 
ordinarily disturbing. Something in its pitch, 
perhaps. It didn’t quite remind Denworth of 
a snake’s hiss, nor the crackle of flames, but 
the short hairs on his nape were tingling. 

But, as he rose, the curtains of the booth 
were drawn together by unseen hands. Den- 
worth instinctively shrank back. The whisper 
said, “There. Now we can talk privately. No, 
don’t try to get out. There’s lots of liquor 
... if you like this milk-and-water stuff. It 
isn’t like the old days. I remember the^great 
festival we had the night Eve was evicted. 
There were great times Under the Hill then.” 



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Denworth said, very softly, “Are you — 
alive?” He was shivering. 

“Yes,” the voice responded. “More alive 
than you. We don’t have to depend on pro- 
creation to maintain our life sparks. With 
us, its imperishable — #s a rule. You see, hu- 
man, I’m a pixy.” 

“You’re a pixy,” Denworth repeated. “I’m 
. . . I’m drunk. Must be. Or I wouldn’t be 
sitting here talking to myself.” 

“You’re talking to me, Turzee the Brawler,” 
the voice said, reasonably enough. “Naturally 
you’re skeptical. But I can convince you of 
my reality easily enough. Just take that 
bracelet off for a minute . . . huh?” 

Some indefinable instinct warned Denworth 
not to obey. As he fumbled at his wrist, a 
surcharged tensity seemed to grow in the air 
around him. He could sense a couching hos- 
tility, avid and waiting. The latent nastiness 
of the bodiless whisper abruptly increased. 

“Take it off,” it said. 

But Denworth, instead, gulped a rum and 
leaned back, picking up another in case of 
emergency. “I’ve heard of things like this,” 
lie muttered. “Sure. In stories. Funny little 
shops — ” 

“Stories get around. Legends have their 
beginnings. Now take the bracelet off, like a 
good fellow.” 

“Why?” 

“Because I can’t hurt you while you’re wear- 
ing it,” the voice said surprisingly, “Oh, damn! 
There I go again. Of all the charms in Smith’s 
place, why did you have to take the Love sigil?” 

“Love sigil?” Hot rum is more potent than 
cold. The fumes were mounting to Den- 
worth’s brain. Already he was beginning to 
feel less skepticism. And, after all, the dis- 
embodied voice was talking sensibly enough, 
except for certain ambiguities. 



“Let’s get this straight,” Denworth said, 
after a pause. “I’ve got a feeling I’m in dan- 
ger. Suppose you tell me what this bracelet 

is. What’s a Love sigil?” 

There was a tiny sigh. “Oh, well. It com- 
pels love. While you wear it, everybody loves 
you. They can’t help it. If you didn’t have 
it on, I could let loose a few spells that 
would — ” 

Denworth felt rather glad that the sentence 
was not finished. Struck by a sudden thought, 
he rose to peer over the back of the booth. 
Perhaps Wayland Smith had followed him, and 
was indulging in ventriloquism. That seemed 
possible. A great deal more possible than the 
tangible, though invisible, existence of Turzee 
the Brawler. 

But the adjacent booth was empty. 

“Look,” said Turzee persuasively. “What 
good is the sigil to you? I need it. I’m so 
much disliked! And I’m to be the chief figure 
at a certain ritual’. . . um . . . ceremony, where 
the sigil’s needed. So be a good fellow, won’t 
you? I’ll tell you where a pot of gold’s buried.” 

“Gold? How much?” 

“Well, not very much,” the Brawler ampli- 
fied. “More than an ounce, though. But it’s 
pure gold,” he added enticingly. 

Denworth drank more rum, remembering 
something Turzee had just said. “I could use 
this sigil of yours. It might come in handy. 
You say it makes people love you?” 

“Why do you think the waiter gave you 
all those drinks? The sigil’s sure-fire. It’s got 
an Eros arrow, a love knot, a St. Valentine’s 
head, a yogham — ” 

“And you can’t hurt me while I’m wearing 

it. ” 

The whisper grew shrill with indignation. 
“Damn squared! How can I? That blasted 
sigil makes me love you.” 




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“Then I’d better not take it off,” Denworth 
said wisely. “I don’t know much about pixies, 
but I don’t like the sound of your voice.” 

“I love yours,” Turzee hissed, apparently 
between clenched teeth. “Wish I didn’t. I’d 
make you sweat!” 

The conversation was interrupted by the 
arrival of the waiter, bearing bottles of cham- 
pagne- — vintage^-and goldtoasser. “On the 
house,” he explained. 

“You see?” Turzee whispered. 

As the waiter retreated, the large, bland 
face of a barfly appeared -between the cur- 
tains. Denworth recognized the chap as one 
who had been at the bar, arguing passionately. 
Now the plump countenance was aglow with 
affectionate happiness. 

“You’re my pal,” the man said, placing a 
heavy hand on Denworth’s shoulder. “Don’t 
let anybody tell you different. You’re a gen- 
nelman. I can tell a gennel . J . gen — You’re 
my pal, see?” ^ 

“Name of Nodens!” the Brawler cried furi- 
ously. “Get out of here, foul human! Ixandar 
vestrum goblanheim!” y 

The fat man’s eyes widened. He made a 
hoarse choking noise and clutched at his col- 
lar. With a shock of horrified surprise, Den- 
worth saw smoke rising from a crimson welt 
on the smooth forehead. ' There was an odor 
of burning skin. 

“Get out!” Turzee shrieked shrilly. The bar- 
fly obeyed, stumbling back and out of sight. 
The expression on his face made Denworth feel 
vaguely sick. He pushed aside the champagne 
bucket, trying to keep his lips from trem- 
bling. f 

Against his will, he was convinced. 

“What did you do?” he asked, very softly. 
“Threw a spell at him,” Turzee said. “I’d 
do the same to you, only — ” 

“Only you can’t; Not while the sigil com- 
pels your love. I see!” Denworth’s blue eyes 
were shallow and thoughtful. 

Turzee said, “Oberon can render the sigil 
useless. Want me to call on him?” 

“I don’t think you will. Smith said the 
bracelet wasn’t finished. It needed one more 
charm. Am I right in thinking that it — ” 
“You’re crazy.” 

Denworth ignored the interruption. “Wait 
a bit. Let me work this out. A man — or a 
pixy — holding this sigil would be pretty om- 
nipotent. It doesn’t seem logical that an or- 
dinary pixy would be given that power. Un- 
less there was some loophole . . . yeah. I get 



it. Smith was going to put a charm on the sigil I 
that would make it vulnerable to Oberon’s 
spells, eh? Is that the answer?” 

Significant silence was the response, Den- 
worth nodded, satisfied. He was beginning to 
feel a warm, pleasant glow. 

“So I’m safe, even from Oberon. I wonder, 
now, just how powerful the sigil is?” 

“It compels the" love of all living things,” 
Turzee said. “But how long do you think 
you can keep it? We won’t stand for such 
a thing. No human has ever taken a charm 
from Wayland Smith’s shop. And he has 
charms far more wondrous than this. Like his 
Protean Locket — ” 

Denworth got up, his face, with its high In- 
dian cheekbones, impassive. But a light was 
glowing behind the blue pallor of his eyes. 
With a purposeful movement he thrust aside 
the curtain and went out of the booth. 

Myra Valentine; Myra Valentine! 

The name throbbed within his brain. 

Myra Valentine. 

Capricious, lovely, disinterested Myra. 
Basking in her glamour, smiling coolly — pa- 
tronizingly! — at Denworth. 

If Turzee followed him out of the bar, Den- 
worth did not know it. Everything else was 
swallowed up in the glowing realization of what 
this new, unbelievable power would mean to 
Myra Valentine. 

“Don’t be foolish, Edgar,” she had said once. 
“What makes you think I could love you?” 

Denworth hadn’t liked that. His ego had 
winced at the stab. He wanted Myra, to wear 
her like a carnation in his lapel. And Myra, 
perhaps, sensed that. Denworth had an un- 
easy feeling that she considered him a second- 
rater. 

Well — now he had the Love sigil. 

Now he would have Myra Valentine. , 

Myra Valentine! The syllables pounded in 
time with his footsteps. Street lights were 
coming on, playing tricks with his shadow. A 
full moon was rising against a garish, starry 
backdrop of purple. Denworth did not feel 
the cold; the rum had warmed him. It was 
the rum, perhaps, that made it so easy now 
for him to accept the sigil as something real 
and powerful. 

Power. Myra Valentine. The Love sigil. 

He must be logical, even though his logic 
was based on one wild improbability — which 
was true. Suppose he won Myra. There were 
disadvantages. His position with the Colum- 



UNKNOWN WORLDS 110 



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bus Insurance Co. was nominal, and a scandal 
might endanger it seriously. Moreover, there 
was his wife. Agatha — 

Why — good Lord! The sigil would work on 
her, too. 

Denworth ’s smile was singularly cruel. 

He was impatient now, and hailed a taxi. 
The beginnings of a scheme were unwinding in 
his mind. Myra — she would be the summation. 
There were other matters to take care of first. 

A warning thought stabbed coldly through 
him. There was danger in magic. Sorcery 
was a two-edged weapon. One had to hold it 
very carefully by the hilt, taking care to avoid 
the blade. The reason was plain to see; use 
of magic meant the creation of new condi- 
tions, against which different safeguards from 
the familiar ones were necessary. As a man 
grew older, he instinctively developed defenses, 
learned how to avoid dangers. Because those 
dangers had become well known. Life was a 
tunnel, with pits dug for the feet of the un- 
wary. Most men learned to use a flashlight. 

But magic gave a different sort of light. 
Ultraviolet, perhaps — black light for black 
magic, it might be. Denworth grinned at the 
conceit. Yes — he would have to walk warily. 
New defenses would have to be erected, old 
ones altered or made stronger. Goety had its 
logic, which was not always based on human 
psychology. But, in this case, the element of 
magic applied to human beings — It should 
not be too difficult. 

The Den worths owned — or, rather, Agatha 
owned— a good-sized, comfortable, rather old- 
fashioned house in the suburbs. The butler 
admitted Denworth, an unaccustomed smile on 
his fishlike face. As he took the other’s top- 
coat, his hands brushed the garment almost 
caressingly. 

“Good evening, sir. I hope you are well.” 
“Yeah. Where’s Mrs. Denworth?” 

“In the library, sir. May I get you some- 
thing — a drink, perhaps? It’s a cold night. 
Shall I build a fire—” 

“No.” . „ 

“You must watch your health, sir. I 
couldn’t bear to have anything happen to 
you.” 

Denworth gulped and escaped to the li- 
brary. The sigil might prove an embarrassing 
possession at times. He was reminded of 
Browning’s Last Duchess, with her unpleasant 
lack of discrimination. She loved all things — 
“She liked whate’er she looked on, and her 



looks went everywhere.” The hell with that. 

A point to be remembered, a discomfort 
against which to be on guard. 

Agatha was sitting under a lamp, knitting. 
She was quite pretty, soft, pink, and gave an 
illusory appearance of helplessness. 

Slowly she turned her head. Denworth saw 
something in the brown eyes that had not 
been there for years. 

“Edgar — ” she said. 

He bent and kissed her. “Hello, dear.” 

The salutation startled her. “Why did you 
do that?” 

Denworth didn’t answer. He found a chair 
opposite .Agatha and lit a cigarette. His eyes 
were narrowed as he watched the blue smoke 
filter upward. 

Agatha put down her knitting. Her face 
was troubled. ^ 

“Edgar.” 

“Yes?” 

“I — ” She bit her lips. “I’d like to talk 
to you.” 

“All right ” 

“Then . . . first, though, are you comfort- 
able? May I get you anything?” 

Denworth hid a savage smile under his hand. 
“Thanks, no. It feels good to relax.” 

“You work too hard, dear. Sometimes I 
feel that I’m . . . I’m not good for you. Are 
. . . you happy?” 

“Reasonably.” 

“That isn’t true. I don’t know why I’m talk- 
ing like this. When you came in just now, I 
felt — ” Agatha didn’t finish. She was crying. 

Denworth said, “You . . . uh . . . you don’t 
trust me. That’s one trouble, of course.” 

“Trust you?” It was a new thought. By 
the power of the sigil, Agatha could love Den- 
worth, but trust was another matter. 

How strong was the sigil’s power? There 
was one way to find out. 

“Your will, I mean,” Denworth said. “Leav- 
ing your money to distant relatives. After all, 
I’m your husband. Do you love me?” 

“Yes.” 

“Then prove it. Make me the beneficiary ' 
of your will.” 

For a moment he thought he had failed. But 
he had put the condition as a test of Agatha’s 
love for him. She could not refuse. 

“I’ll do that tonight, Edgar,” 

“Tomorrow will do,” Denworth said, sigh- 
ing. “So — you love me, eh?” 

“I thought I didn’t. But it’s something I 
can’t help.” 



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“I wonder if you love me enough to die for I’ve brought a friend. Your majesty!” 
me,” Den worth almost whispered. Whether “Yes, Turzee,” said a new voice, low and 
or not Agatha heard he didn’t know. He got deadly cold. “As you say, this is not fit. Men 
up abruptly and went into the living room, have changed since Adam. This one is — not 
where he mixed himself a stiff drink-- good.” 

“Your spells should remedy that,” the 
“What a swine you are, Edgar Den worth,” Brawler suggested. “A nonexistent being can’t 
a soft voice said. be either good or bad. Leave the bracelet, 

“I — Eh? Who’s that?” The man turned, though, please. X want it.” 
spilling droplets from his glass. Nothing was “Yes, Turzee,” Oberon whispered. And 
visible, of course. there was silence. 




“Your friend Turzee. Turzee the Brawler. 
The pixy whose bracelet you stole, foul mon- 
ster. If you didn’t have the sigil on, I’d have 
you Under the Hill in two shakes.” 

“I’ve got it on, though,” Denworth pointed 
out. “So you can get back to hell and stay 
there.” 

“It’s true I can’t harm you,” Turzee said. 

'“I love you too much for that. And black 
shame it is that an honest pixy should be com- 
pelled to love a verminous louse like you. But 



Something, terrible and unseen, hummed in 
the emptiness of the .air. Denworth felt hor- 
ribly uneasy. He backed away, licking his lips. 

“It is useless, Turzee,” Oberon broke the 
stillness. “There is no flaw in the sigil. I love 
this man myself. I cannot harm him. Can 
Wayland Smith not add the silver link by 
teleportation?” 

“He can’t,” Turzee growled-softly. “I asked 
him. And without the silver link, the brace- 
let’s charm is unbreakable.” 



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Den worth took a deep breath. His palms 
were sweaty. If Turzee’s voice had been hor- 
rid, that of Oberon was utterly shocking. And 
yet there was no good reason for that phe- 
nomenon. Probably it was that nasty whisper 
— the feeling that it had been used so much 
for unthinkable syllables that it had acquired 
a subtle venom that almost dripped from it. 
It was a whisper not intended for any human 
language. * 

There was still liquor in the glass, and Den- 
worth finished it with two gulps. He looked 
around. 

“Still here?” 

“Yes,” Oberon said. “Turzee, if you get 
him Under the Hill, call me immediately. I 
should enjoy myself.” 

“Not much chance, your majesty,” the 
Brawler said despondently. “He’s too smart 
to take off the sigil, and while he wears it . . . 
you know.” 

“He’ll come a cropper,” Oberon prophesied, 
dropping into unexpected colloquialism. “He’ll 
take the bracelet off to bathe, or something of 
the sort. Why not sick mixed pixies on the 
malapert wretch? That might work. It would 
get on his nerves, at least.” 

<S 1 shall, your majesty,” Turzee said. “I 
have your leave?” 

“By all means. Try bribing the worm, too. 
Good-by.” 

There was a swish of displaced air. Den- 
worth blinked . 

“Qberon’s gone?” 

“He’s gone. That’s not a bad idea, bribing 
you. Suppose I promise you vast rewards and 
immunity if you return the sigil?” 

“Could I trust you?” 

“If I swore by cold iron, you could. How 
about it?” 

“No. A bird in the hand — I’ll just keep 
the bracelet. I’ll feel safer.” 

“Loathsome rat of a man!” Turzee hissed. 
“You try my patience. You forget that I 
have certain powers — ” 

“Which you can’t use on me,” Denworth 
pointed out blandly. 

The Brawler sizzled furiously. “ Ah-hl Do 
you know what I’d like to do to you? That!” 
A chair beside Denworth horrifyingly became 
semiliqueseent, and melted in blobs into the 
carpet. “And this!” Turzee added as the but- 
ler opened the door to peer into the room. 

“Mr. Denworth — ” 

He got no further. The wretched man was 
hurled violently forward on his face. He 



seemed to be indulging in contortions, as 
though a mad Swedish masseur was working 
on him. An astounded face was briefly visi- 
ble; then the butler lay motionless, his limbs 
twisted into what seemed to be inextricable 
knots. 

“That,” Turzee said. “See?” 

Denworth moistened his lips and hurried 
to his butler’s rescue. The latter made no 
sound until he was untangled. 

“Eh?” 

“S-s-s-sir,” the man finished, with a supreme 
effort. “I’m sorry, sir. I ... I must have had 
a seizure. I fear I am ill.” 

“It’s all right,” Denworth said. “You’d bet- 
ter go and lie down. What did you want?” 

“I forget. Oh . . . yes. Mrs. Denworth 
wishes to speak to you in the library.” 

Denworth hastily left, since the butler was 
beginning to eye him with affection. There 
was no sign of Turzee the Brawler. Perhaps 
he had given up — 

Not likely. He seemed to be a stubborn 
sort of pixy. Denworth shrugged and entered 
the library, where Agatha looked up with a 
wistful smile. 

“I’ve just phoned my attorney, Edgar,” she 
said. “He’ll be here within the hour. I’m 
going to change my will and make you the 
beneficiary.” 

“Oh.” Denworth felt uncomfortable. Simon 
Henderson’s steely eyes always disturbed him. 
The old lawyer had a way of looking at people 
as though he saw into them. He might ask 
questions — 

“I’m sorry I can’t wait, Agatha. I’ve a 
business engagement downtown. Do you 
mind?” 

“Of course not. Take care of yourself, dear.” 

Denworth nodded and half turned. Agatha 
said, “Would you mind very much if — ” 

She rose, went to him, and kissed him. Den- 
worth could scarcely repress a smile as he went 
out, donning his topcoat in the hall. The 
sigil’s power was remarkable. He wondered if 
it were cumulative. 

In his taxi, he remembered that there was 
no need to fear Simon Henderson. The brace- 
let’s charm would affect the. attorney as it 
affected all other living things. But — oh, well 
— there was no point in staying home when 
the Cabanavista was putting on a new floor 
show tonight. 

Perhaps because he was a little afraid, he 
felt the need for extroversion. The impinging 



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of magic upon routine is basically disturbing, to use the future tense; “Forget it. Have 
It opens vistas. Routine habits of thought another drink.” * 
are even more, disrupted when pixies are in- 
volved. Pixies were — unexpected. / ' At that precise moment Mary Bush waiter’s 

Seated at a ringside table, Denworth looked hair turned into a writhing nest of snakes, 
blankly at semistripped and shapely wenches “That,” said Turzee the Brawler’s all-too- 
and brooded over the situation. "It seemed familiar whisper, “is what I’d like to do to 
well in hand. He had been ushered, with all you, you lovable little blob of unmentionable 
signs of affection,; to the best seat in the house, - filth. See?” ' 

much to the astonishment of the head waiter, . Denworth turned a pallid yellow, but kept 
who hurried over to see what was up. He his nerve. Mary had not yet realized what 
came, as it were, to scoff, and remained to wor- had happened. Perhaps she merely thought 
ship. His attentions were cut short only by her carefully arranged coiffure had coine un- 
the arrival of a blond socialite named Mary done, and was uncoiling. She put up a swift 
Bush waiter, whom Denworth knew slightly, hand, touched the horror, and opened her 
Mary took the seat opposite the man and mouth to a silently screaming square. A ser- 
glared all other contenders into oblivion. pent head flipped down her forehead and peered 

She was a charming, fluffy-brained woman intently into her wide eyes. Mary closed eyes 
who had always snooted Denworth, and he took and mouth and slid noiselessly under the table, 
pleasure now in her obvious adoration. From The cloth swallowed her. No sound emerged 
all around the big room stares were leveled save for a faint hissing. 

at the man, magnetically attracted by the Love^ Luckily the Cabanavista was badly lighted, 
sigil. He ordered drinks, and was not sur- on the familiar principle that a clear view of 
prised to receive champagne, on the house. your friends’ faces is apt to rip asunder the 

“I like you, Mr. Denworth,” Mary Bush- glorious glow of illusion that liquor provides, 
waiter said, batting her eyes significantly. “I The principle is sound; reality should not in- 
fear you’ve been hiding your light under a trude into dreams. In this case the result was 
bushel. Do you know that you’re very hand- lucky for Denworth, though only briefly, 
some?” It presently became distressingly clear that 

“Oh, no,” Denworth murmured absently. Turzee had not arrived alone. He had taken 
“Distinguished, perhaps. Still — ” Oberon’s advice about calling in aid. 

“You’re beautiful,” Mary insisted. “I like The Cabanavista, in fact, was lousy with 
you — very much.” Over the rim of the glass pixies. 

she eyed him with shocking significance. They were invisible, of course, a situation 

Denworth, however, was not interested in to which many of the night club’s customers 
the Bushwalter. He was brooding over the owe their continued sanity. Turzee appar- 
ensorcelled bracelet and the possible scope of ently had culled his assistants from the very 
his powers. As yet he had not put the talis- dregs of pixydom, creatures of low and de- 
man to a really severe test. Nor could he, mented impulses, whose idea of a good time 
until Agatha hada changed her will. involved such matters as donning tablecloths 

“I wonder,” he said suddenly, “if you’d and flapping weirdly about the room, like 
lend me a thousand dollars. I’m short of amorphous harpies. The cloth before Den- 
money just now. Can you — ” worth was snatched off abruptly, rising up into 

“I’ll write check,” said Mary; who was a Punched, ghostly figure hovering in the air 

notoriously stingy. “Don’t bother to pay it before him. 
back.” She fumbled in her handbag. Someone shrieked. 

Denworth expelled a deep breath. Hell — Denworth calmly drank more champagne, 

he didn’t need Mary’s money, especially as ~A faint chattering was heard, and Turzee’s vi- 
there were certainly strings on it. The Bush- cious whisper announced, “I’d fling that stuff 
waiter was a demanding wench. He had in your face if you weren’t wearing the sigil, 

merely wished to test the sigil’s power; the By Nid and Kronos, I’ll show you what I’d 

result was eminently satisfying. like to do to you. At ’em, lads!” 

“I was kidding,” he smiled. “I don’t need A chorus of piping whistles answered him. 
the dough, Mary.” Men and women were rising from their tables, 

“Take it anyway/ I have lots.” shouting questions. Waiters scurried to and 

“So have I,” said Denworth, not troubling fro, casting helpless glances at the head waiter, 

UNKNOWN WORLDS 114 

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a sleek, handsome creature whose life had 
heretofore been untroubled. Basically he was 
not fitted for an encounter with pixies. His 
idea of quelling the incipient riot was to leap 
on the orchestra’s dais, flap his hands, and tell 
a false and lying story to the microphone stand- 
ing before him. 

“It’s all right, folks,” he chattered. “This 
is part of the show — ” 

“Sue you!" a furious voice bellowed from 
under an overturned table. Several pairs of 
legs were visible sticking out, and wine bottles 
hung in empty air, pouring their contents upon 
the wildly flourishing limbs. Two tablecloths 
flapped in slow circles around the scene. At 
nearby tables people were staring with fas- 
cinated eyes. 

But the head waiter’s soothing voice had 
its effect. Gradually everyone turned to watch 
the man on the dais. Despite the ghostly, 
avian tablecloths, it seemed possible that 
trouble might be averted. 

Then the microphone began to rock. Al- 
most imperceptibly it tilted to the left. The 
head waiter swayed after it. Back it moved, 
this time to the right. 

And back once more. With slowly increas- 
ing arcs the pixilated microphone rocked to and 
fro. The harassed announcer swayed in time 
to it, rather resembling, in his actions, a hyp- 
notized cobra. The effect of his speech was 
totally nullified by his inexplicable behavior. 

When the microphone levitated itself into 
the air, the head waiter tilted back his head, 
gave a few inarticulate cries, and made help- 
less, despondent motions. He had given up. 
The damn place was haunted, and there was 
nothing more he could do about it. He’d done 
his best. It obviously wasn’t good enough. 
Especially since the microphone, with a jerk, 



detached itself from its cord and began to 
pursue the head waiter into the disintegrating 
orchestra, the component parts of which fled 
off in all directions like an expanding universe. 

Few noticed the scene on the dais. There 
was trouble enough among the tables. Only 
one remained in place; the others were over- 
turned or rolling about wildly, amid crashing 
glass and tinkling service. The dim lighting 
added immeasurably to the effect. Since the 
rampaging pixies were invisible, it was natu- 
ral that several customers should blame their 
troubles upon the humans nearest them, and as 
a result a few interesting fights started. In- 
evitably others were sucked in — 

Benworth glanced under the table. Mary 
Bushwalter’s hair had returned to its normal 
state, though the woman was still uncon- 
scious. For the rest, a tablecloth flapped past 
Denworth, and a malicious little voice whis- 
pered, “Hope you like it, rat.” 

Denworth sighed and rose, delicately wiping 
his lips with his napkin. He made his way 
to the door, avoiding struggling knots of bodies, 
and, since the hat-check girl was missing, found 
his own hat and topcoat. That done, he went 
out and called a taxi. The sirens of police 
cars were screaming. But the tumult from 
within the Cabanavista had mysteriously 
lessened in volume. 

Denworth gave his home address. He was 
tired^magic is more wearing than one might 
think. Rolling through the quiet streets, he 
relaxed on the cushions and lit a cigarette. 

“Turzee?” he asked quietly. 

“Yeah,” the pixy’s rather horrid little whis- 
per came. “You can’t lose me. See?” 

“Are you alone?” 

“For the nonce. But with the snap of my 



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fingers I can summon plenty of friends. Want 
me to do it?” 

“Why bother?” Benworth asked reasonably. 
“I'm not a fool. You were trying to annoy me 
by that affair in the Cabanavista. It didn’t 
work, you see/i 

“Bah!” 

“Since you can't do anything to me directly, 
you’re trying to work indirectly. Only you 
forget one thing. Nobody in the world means 
a damn to me.” 

“What a louse,” Turzee said. “To think 
I’m doomed to love a skunk like you!” ■ 

Denworth grinned. “Get Wayland Smith to 
make you another bracelet. Ever think of 
that?” 

“He can’t,” the Brawler explained. “One 
sigil a year is the law. I can’t wait. Our festi- 
val’s coming up too soon. How about lending 
me the sigil till it’s over? I’ll give it back 
afterward.” 

Benworth didn’t trouble to reply. There was 
silence in the taxicab, till Turzee broke it. 

“Bo you like to be bad?” he inquired, 'ap- 
parently in all sincerity. 

Benworth laughed. “Relative values . . . 
good Lord! I wonder what your I. Q. would 
be, Turzee.” 

“Three hundred on Tuesdays and Thurs- 
days,” the pixy said moodily. “Sixty-three 
on Fridays. Naturally. You think you’re 
pretty smart, don’t you?” 

“Maybe. I’m not a fool, anyway.” 

“So you think. There’s a balance. The 
human world isn’t supposed to touch others. 
The logic of Earth is fitted to the pattern. 
When other things impinge—” 

“Well?” ’ 

“Each of the worlds has its pattern. They 
arranged that, in the beginning, and They 
set up a law of compensation. What you call 
the Fates, or the Norns. Those are only sym- 
bols for a rule of logic that’s only applied^ 
when the worlds touch. The equation for 
Earth is too complex for any but Them to 
visualize. When a monkey wrench is thrown 
into the machinery, compensation sets in. It’s 
set in already. You branched off from your 
life pattern when you stole the sigil, Benworth. 
You stepped out of the road. Ever since, 
you’ve been heading back toward the road, 
though you don’t know f it. The law of com- 
pensation is taking you back to — ” , 

“To what?” Benworth asked, very softly. 

“I don’t know,” Turzee said. “But it will 



be quite horrible to you. The fate you most 
wish to avoid.” 

“Under the Hill? What does that mean?” 

Silence, heavy and somehow terrible. The 
taxi stopped. Benworth got out and reached 
for his wallet. 

“On me,” said the cabman, with a look that 
spoke volumes. “Any time you want to go 
anywhere, phone for 107. It won’t cost you 
nothing.” 

As Benworth let himself into the house, a 
formless dark shadow of worry paced him. So 
far, he knew, he had seen only the least part 
of the strange cosmos that the key of magic 
opened. Beyond might lie — anything. 

He had glimpsed merely that part of magic 
that impinged on himself, in his own world, 
and that had been altered to conform to human 
and terrestrial logic. It was like hearing the 
words of a lunatic, and knowingthat black hell 
lay hidden within the man’s veiled mind. 

Under the Hill. What horror did that sym- 
bol imply? “The fate you most wish to avoid.” 
What was it? 

“Going Under the Hill,” Benworth said to 
himself, after a hesitant pause. “Naturally. 
Well — I’ll be careful. Turzee?” 

The pixy didn’t answer. There were voices 
from the library. Denworth went in, to find 
Agatha listening impassively to the arguments 
of Simon Henderson, her attorney. 

“Hello, dear,” the woman said, rising to kiss 
Denworth. “I’m so glad you’re back.” 

Henderson stared with astonished . eyes at 
the scene of marital affection. He was a sour- 
faced, withered, gaunt figure of incredibly 
rigid honesty, and Denworth had never liked 
him. 

So he returned Agatha’s kiss and nodded at 
the attorney. “Glad to see you, Henderson. 
Am I intruding?” 

“Of course not,” his wife answered swiftly. 
“Sit down. We’re all finished, aren’t we, 
Simon?” 

The old man grunted. “The new will’s made 
and witnessed, if that’s what you mean. But 
I think you’re insane.” 

Agatha smiled. “Legally insane?” 

Henderson snorted. “Of course not! I 
merely am implying that you’re unwise in leav- 
ing everything to . . . to Mr. Denworth.” 

“That’s enough,’*’ Agatha said. 

But the lawyer turned to glare at Denworth. 
“Have you been applying any sort of pressure 
to her? If you have". . . if you have — ” He 



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stopped, face contorting, and passed his hand 
before his eyes. “I . . . I — May I have a 
glass of water? Something—” 

Denworth poured brandy, and Henderson 
gulped it. ' 

“Thanks.^ I Was dizzy for a moment — 
What was I saying?” 

“That I’d been applying pressure to Agatha.” 
Henderson took a deep breath. “Maybe 
you have. Maybe you have. But that’s all 
right. A man needs money. Agatha, you’re 
doing the right thing.” 

She stared, amazed by the lawyer’s sudden 
volte-face * “I thought — ” 

“You thought I didn’t like Edgar,” Hender- 
son said, rather irritably. “Well, you’re wrong. 
He’s the sort of boy I’d like to have for a~ 
son. I think a good deal of Edgar.” 

Denworth choked, and covered, up by pour- 
ing himself a drink. He flashed an appre- 
ciative glance at the sigil. It even worked 
on Henderson! That meant it could do any- 
thing. 

A faint rustle brought him up sharply. Was 
Turzee here? It was impossible to say, but, 
just now* Denworth did not care for more 
pixie trouble. He smiled at Agatha. 

“I’ve a headache. Mind if I say good night, 
dear?” 

“Darling! I’ll bring you some aspirin.” 
“Thanks, no. All I need is sleep.” 

“Well — ” Agatha said doubtfully. 
Henderson was looking concerned. “You 
must take care of your health, my boy. Great 
care! You don’t know how much you mean 
to a great many people. Somehow I find my- 
self looking on you as a son.” 

“Thanks. Night, pop,” Denworth said flip- 
pantly, and went out, throwing a kiss to Aga- 
tha. He could afford gestures now, he thought, 
as he climbed the stairs. 

The butler was nowhere in evidence. Den- 
worth wondered if the man, after his experi- 
ence with Turzee, had given notice. Probably 
not. The sigil would bind him securely. 

Denworth undressed slowly and slipped into 
pajamas, puffing a cigarette meanwhile. There 
was a board meeting at the Columbus Insur- 
ance Co. tomorrow. Denworth had plans in- 
volving that meeting. Myra Valentine could 
wait — even if she married tonight, that would 
be no obstacle. The power of the sigil recog- 
nized no other bonds. 

As Denworth dropped off to sleep, a familiar 
tune was humming in his mind— a song he 



had heard once, years ago. How did it go? 
Oh, yes — 

\ „ 

Love, your magic spell is everywhere — 

Denworth smiled and went to sleep. 

His dreams were singularly unpleasant. 
Someone, vast and unseen,, was doing some- 
thing cryptic and terrible, weaving a web, 
knotting a thread here, tightening a strand 
there; and the worst of it was that the entity 
paid no attention whatsoever to Denworth. 
It was as though Denworth existed merely as 
an expression in a complicated equation. He 
had lost all sense of self. An overpowering 
terror lurked at the back of his mind, pushing 
against a dam that threatened to break. The 
sigil, upon his wrist, burned like molten metal. 

From somewhere Turzee’s whisper said, 
“Let me take him Under the Hill.” 

The vast thing worked on unheeding. 

“Break the charm of the sigil.” 

The work went on. 

“Change the equation. Let me do as I will 
with him.” 

-. The entity did not hear. - -- 

“Destroy the sigil. You have the power.” 

The slow weaving continued. 

“Under the Hill they wait. Let him dance 
with us. Let him know us. Let him see pur 
beauty.” - 

But 'Turzee was not answered. His thin 
whisper died into silence. That great, form- 
less thing, invisible and yet somehow strangely 
sensed, worked on, following an impelling urge 
alien to Denworth. Then, the dam that held 
back fear broke, and the man awoke, gasping 
and sweating — 

He took a sleeping tablet and rather uneasily 
composed himself again, but there were no 
more dreams. In the morning he woke re- 
freshed, and after a cold shower was ready to 
develop his plan further. He did that at break- 
fast. 

Agatha, he saw, was looking unusually well. 
Her clear skin was flushed, and a smile played 
about the corners of her mouth. She had or- 
dered a mixed grill for breakfast, which was 
one of Denworth’s favorites. 

They sat in the sun porch, and warm yellow 
light drifted through the windows, borne by 
the sharp, pleasant air of early spring. The 
feel of the wind was like that of water at dawn, 
during a hot summer; a sensuous, electric ca- 
ress that ran pleasantly along Den worth’s 
skin. He felt very good this morning. Why 



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not? At last he was on the brink of achieving own ego, that Agatha should die. 
all that he had desired, all that he ever wanted. He looked at her, finding a secret pleasure 
Nor would it have the dullness of a gift dumped in her willing, almost supplicatory adoration, 
in his lap. There would be the thrill of con- But the intellectual satisfaction of mental 
flict. sadism was somewhat too fine for Denworth. 

And yet he was invulnerable. So might Concrete realities were more desirable. 

Achilles have felt — battling, as he thought. She must die. 

without danger to himself. The parallel was a And so he arranged it, with rather horrible 
good one, even to the disastrous implications, callousness, playing delicately on the woman’s 
for Denworth remembered his dream and what helpless emotion. She loved him. That he 
Turzee had said in the taxicab. He would knew. She would die for him — 
have to be careful. Yet he felt confident now, 

tuned to the highest pitch. He stretched lazily, Agatha cried at first, but a pitiable bravery 
enjoying the movement of his muscles flowing sustained her in the end. Yes, she knew Ed- 
under his hide. gar wasn’t happy with her. It was her fault. 

“How did you sleep, dear?” Agatha asked. Only yesterday had she realized — 

“Well enough.” A shadow fell over the Couldn’t they go on — differently? 
man. He pushed it away, and forked up a No. 

bit of broiled kidney. His blue eyes had sud- She loved him. She would do anything for 
denly turned cold and stony. him. Couldn’t they make a second try — - 

As he ate, he thought, casting quick glances No. He loved Myra Valentine, 

at Agatha. The sigil maintained its power. But — 

The woman showed it; adoration was plain in “You said you loved me enough to die for 
every look and movement. The love the amu- me. Prove it. Kill yourself. So that it will 

let compelled was unreasoning and selfless, seem an accident. Die for me. If you love me. 

Selfless? Was it, then, stronger than the vital If you love me.” 

element of self-preservation? On his wrist the sigil shone brilliantly in 

A thought came to Denworth; was it neces- the morning sunlight, 
sary to have Agatha die? Money was his for .Die for me. If you love me. 

the asking. Agatha would give him a divorce And Agatha, pressing her damp handker- 

if he desired that — chief to her mouth, nodded. Her eyes looked 

He asked her. Her eyes filled, but after a after Denworth as he left the room. She knew 
while she nodded. “Yes, Edgar. If it would she would not see him again/ 

make you happy. Do ... is that what you Denworth knew that, too, but he did not 

want?” turn. He was too busy wondering if the final 

“No. Of course not, dear,” he said, and test would be successful. 

"fell silent, considering. Life with Agatha, un- In the meantime he fortified himself with 
der these altered relations, might not be too a drink, hailed' a taxi, and went downtown to 
unpleasant. Yet the face of Myra Valentine his office. On the way he passed Wayland 
rose up, shattering his unformed good inten- Smith’s shop and hastily averted his gaze. A 
tions. new thought came to him; something Turzee 

She would become his mistress. The sigil had said. Smith possessed a great many 
would take care of that. But it would not charms — 

be enough. Denworth wanted Myra more The thought was forgotten, but it would 
as a symbol than a reality, though he did recur later. Denworth presently reached his 
not realize it. Possession of her would com- office, where he waited for the signal that 
pensate for certain deficiencies of his own. As would summon him to the board meeting. 
Turzee had remarked, Denworth was a louse. When it came, he rose, taking a deep breath. 
This was the more evident when he de- This would be important. 

cided to keep to his plan of eliminating Aga : He sat silent at first, the recipient of a sur- 

tha permanently. It was not necessary now. prising number of handshakes and inquiries 
But he remembered the chafing impotence as to his health. Oddly friendly glances were 
that had been his in the past, the sullen, bitter * sent his way. But business proceeded as usual, 
hatred he had felt for Agatha after he had Until, under the head of new business, Den- 
first realized that she was not a malleable fool; worth brought up the point of policy that had 
and it seemed necessary, for the sake of his been settled yesterday. Everyone listened. 

UNKNOWN WORLDS 120 



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Benworth said that he felt the idea was too 
conservative. He mentioned another plan. It 
was out of order, he knew, but under the cir- 
cumstances he thought it would be all right 
to speak. He made a motion. 

Six men seconded it as one. 

When it came to a vote, the new policy 
was passed without a dissenting voice, cancel- 
ing the previous decision. Den worth grinned 
and settled back, satisfied. They loved him 
so much they couldn’t refuse him anything. 

He turned to the man at his left. “Joe, I 
want a raise. And a better position. I won- 
der if you’d mention it?” 

“Damn right I will! I should have done 
it before. You deserve a great deal, Ed.” 

The members didn’t vote him in as chair- 
man of the board — that just wasn’t possible 
— but they quadrupled his salary and gave 
him a position about two steps below that of 
the president. Applause signified approval. 

As the meeting broke up, Denworth pushed 
his way through a crowd of congratulations, 
refusing a score of invitations, and returned to 
his office. He did no work there. Instead, he 
lifted his feet to the desk top, smoked cigarette 
after cigarette, and nodded from time to time. 
All was going well — very well indeed. So far. 

He phoned Myra Valentine. Her maid said 
that she was out. This was an obvious lie. 



for Myra never rose before noon. The sigil, 
then, didn’t work over the telephone. 

Denworth said, “Tell her I’ll be over this 
afternoon,” and hung up, smiling thinly. Myra 
would be easy prey, once she was within the 
bracelet’s sphere of influence, whatever it might 
be. Range of vision, perhaps? It didn’t mat- 
ter. 

He wondered what Agatha was doing. Had 
she — Well, he would soon know. In the 
meantime, he could stand a drink. 

“Don’t go,” a familiar whisper said. “I’ll 
cause trouble if you do. I have lots of friends, 
you know. And Oberon’s given me carte 
blanche.” 

Denworth relaxed behind his desk. “All 
right,” he said. “What’s the proposition now?” 

“I’m getting damn tired of making proposi- 
tions,” the Brawler announced. “I love you, 
and I’d like to take you Under the Hill. Para- 
dox, isn’t it? You don’t take — friends — Under 
the Hill.” 

“Just what’s there?” Benworth asked, yield- 
ing to curiosity. 

“To our eyes, it’s lovely,” Turzee said, “but 
we are in no sense human. People have a 
mistaken idea about pixies. Figures of fun — 
so is Punch, but he’s pretty nasty, too.” 

“I know,” Benworth agreed. He had al- 




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ways .felt that way about the crook-nosed, 
stiffly gesticulating puppet. “What do you 
look like? How big are you?” 

“As large, perhaps,” Turzee said, “as the 
last-joint of your little finger. To your eyes 
we would be quite lovely. Only you can’t 
see us.” 

“There’ve been artists’ conceptions of 
pixies.” 

“You could paint one yourself, if I described 
myself,” the Brawler said. “We’re small, deli- 
cate, fragile, with a high basal metabolism, no 
digestive tract, no — ” 

“Eh?” 

“We’re solid all through. Like a potato. 
You may find that difficult to understand— 
you think anthropomorphically. Why am I 
telling you all this?” 

“Because of the sigil?” Denworth sug- 
gested. 

“I suppose so. Listen, won’t you be reason- 
able and take the bracelet back to Smith? 
I’ve spoken to him, and he’ll give you a lot 
of puckerel charms in exchange.!” 

“What are those?” 

“Petty stuff. But they’d be important, to 
you. A bottomless purse, X-ray glasses, a char- 
acter scanner. How about it?” 

“No,” said Denworth, “because they 
wouldn’t protect me against . enemies. The 
sigil does. Nothing can harm me as long as 
I wear it.” 

“By the seven dimensions of hell!” Turzee 
shrilled. “You try my patience! And too far! 
I’d like t<^-” 

“mat?” 

“Do this!” the pixy cried hoarsely, as the 
door opened to admit Den worth’s secretary. 
The secretary’s body seemed to collapse, as 
though all the bones had been removed from 
it. A shapeless, horrible bag,' it sank down, 
gasping and staring. And then it melted away 
and was gone, clothes and all. 

Denworth looked sick. He shut his eyes 
tightly, chewing his lip. 

“Miss Bennett?” he asked gently. 

There was no answer, except for Tur zee’s 
low snigger. 

“Miss—” '' 

“That’s what I’d like to do to you,”, said 
the pixy with relish. “I can do a lot more 
horrible things than that, too. You’ll learn!” 
Denworth had recovered his equilibrium. 
“It’s no use,” he said, putting his palms flat 
against the desk and staring into space. “It’s 
— pretty bad, but Miss Bennett was nothing 



UNKNOWN WORLDS 122 

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to me. I don’t care if she’s dead; if she’s suf- 
fered. It doesn’t touch me. I’m impregnable, 
and I’m going to stay that way.” 

“You’re a swine.” 

“You’re a fool,” Denworth retorted. “After 
all, you killed the girl.” 

“It was moral for me to do so,” Turzee 
said. “I have no human sense of values. Sauce 
for the goose isn’t sauce for the gander. I can 
ethically kill the girl, but it’s immoral of you 
to remain unmoved.” 

“Amoral.” 

“Casuistry. Smart- Aleck stuff. And I’ll 
do worse,” Turzee promised. “You’ll come 
crawling to me on your knees before you’re 
through.” 

“Who do you love?” Denworth inquired, 
grinning crookedly. 

“Y-y-you!” Turzee screamed, almost speech- 
less with fury, and there was a swirl of dis- 
placed air. Apparently the pixy had van- 
ished 

Denworth considered. He was surprisingly 
untouched by Miss Bennett’s disappearance. 
Perhaps because it had been so complete. 
Death usually involves remnants, inartistic re- 
minders of what may have been rather badly 
composed in the first place. Corpses are de- 
generate, but they have an emotional appeal 
through association and contrast. 

Denworth shook his head. No emotion, he 
decided, must touch him henceforward. It 
shouldn’t be too difficult. Always egocentric, 
he ruthlessly determined that the power of the 
Love sigil would work unreciprocated. 

But Myra — 

He telephoned his own house. Agatha was 
not there. No, the butler did not know where 
she had gone. Was there anything he must 
do? Mr. Denworth wasn’t feeling ill? He 
must take care of himself — 

Denworth smiled sourly and cradled the re- 
ceiver. He’d have a drink, and then call on 
Myra, before she had a chance to dress and 
escape. 

It worked out that way. Myra, red-haired, 
arrogant, and lovely, came in to glare at her 
maid, who had let Denworth into the apart- 
ment against orders. Her voice was throaty, 
perhaps a little sharp now. 

“What’s the idea—” 

“Hello, Myra,” Denworth said, smiling. As 
always, his throat went dry at sight of the 
girl. Her sheer sensuous beauty was over- 
whelming. It struck out almost tangibly. 



“Listen, Ed Denworth,” Myra snapped, 
swinging to face him with a swirl of turquoise 
velvet. “I’ve told you — ” 

She stopped. 

“You’ve told me?” 

Myra’s lips were parted as she stared at 
the man. Something leaped into view in the 
dark depths of her eyes. 

“I’ve—” 

“Beat it,” Denworth said to the maid, and 
as the woman went out, he extended his arms. 
Myra came into their circle without question. 

Several hours later, they spent the cocktail 
hour in a roof garden overlooking the city. A 
warm, pleasant relaxation filled Denworth. His 
glance was possessive as he watched Myra sip- 
ping her drink. So was hers. 

“Another?” 

“Haven’t you had enough, darling? Your 
health—” 

“I heal quick,” Denworth said flippantly. 
“By the way, did I tell you I’ve a better po- 
sition?” He went into detail. “After I . . . 
um . . . get my divorce, we can be married im- 
mediately.” 

“It’ll take a year,” Myra said. “I can’t 
wait that long. But we’ll be married, yes. 
Only you’ve got to give up your job. I don’t 
want you to work. Fve lots of money.” 

“No,” Denworth said firmly. “That won’t 
work out. I’m on my way up — in fact, I’ve 
just started. I’ve no intention of retiring just 
yet.” 

“But I love you. I don’t want you to work. 
I want to take care of you.” 

“Amazon. I’m not exactly a drone, Myra. 
I have plans — ” 

She laughed affectionately. Denworth felt 
a slight irritation. Myra’s love seemed un- 
pleasantly maternal. Well, a firm' hand was 
necessary, before any difficulties could de- 
velop. 

And yet, curiously enough, Denworth got 
nowhere. Myra had firmly fixed in her mind 
the idea that her lover was a child, to be 
watched and guarded against harm. Den- 
worth was reminded of Agatha. His wife, too, 
had wanted to usurp his natural domination. 

It might have been only the instinct of 
survival working within Myra. Perhaps she 
sensed that if she once capitulated and gave 
Denworth the upper hand, she’d be lost. Den- 
worth would not be an easy master. 

She was lovely, though, breathtakingly so, 
with long sleek lines that flowed with consum- 
mate grace. It was difficult to think clearly 



123 UNKNOWN WORLDS 

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in Myra’s intoxicating presence. Her dark 
eyes were pools in which a man’s senses could 
be drowned. 

So nothing was done, till a telephone call 
summoned Denworth from the girl’s side. 

He felt a small, jerky leap within his chest 
as he lifted the receiver. 

“Denworth speaking. Well?” 

“This is Chief of Police Fennel. I’d like to 
see you.” 

“Of course. Anything wrong?” 

“An accident. Your wife — ” 

Denworth ’s tone did not match the expres- 
sion on his face. “Agatha? She’s not hurt!” 
“No,” Fennel said, after a pause. “We’ll 
talk about that later. I phoned your office, 
and they said this was one of your hangouts. 
Suppose I come up now?” 

“No, I’ll meet you somewhere. My office?” 
“AH right.” 

Denworth looked thoughtful as he made his 
way back to the table. Trouble was in the 
offing. He sensed it. Had Turzee been up 
to his tricks? WeU — he fingered the sigil af- 
fectionately — he was safe, at least. 

Myra was not at the table. After an in- 
conclusive conversation with the waiter, Den- 
worth paid his bill and* left. Why had Myra 
run out? Surely the spell of the bracelet had 
not worn off! 

Denworth was still brooding when he 
reached his office to face Chief of Police Fennel, 
a small, gray, harsh-faced man with singularly 
piercing black eyes. Fennel didn’t offer to 
shake hands. He jabbed his cigar in the direc- 
tion of a chair, perched on the desk’s edge, and 
glanced around. 

“We’re alone. Good. Now, Mr. Denworth, 
let's talk” 

“Surely.” Denworth sat down, lighting a 
cigarette. His face was impassive, but his blue 
eyes were wary. “You say there was an acci- 
dent?” - 

“Your wife almost jumped off the top of 
the Carnes Building.” 

Denworth sat back with a jerk. Almost! 
What had stopped her? 

He didn’t ask that question, of course. In- 
stead, he said, “I don’t understand. Agatha — 
I don’t believe it.” 

Fennel chewed his cigar. “I’ve been talk- 
ing to Simon Henderson, your wife’s lawyer. 
Simon’s an old friend of mine. He told me 
a few things — ” 



Denworth didn’t show the sudden fear that 
shot through him. Damn Henderson! 

“He was worried. It seems your wife changed 
her will last night, and Simon took the pre- 
caution of calling on her this morning. He 
saw her coming out of the house. She didn’t 
notice him. She took a taxi, and he followed. 
She wandered v around town aimlessly. Once 
she almost stumbled under a truck. Finally 
she went up to the roof of the Carnes Build- 
ing and climbed on the parapet. Then she 
fainted.” 

Denworth blinked. “But — ” 

“Simon talked to her, after she ^recovered. 
Your wife was pretty hysterical. She seemed 
to feel that she should kill' herself for your 
sake. Only she couldn’t quite bring herself 
to do it. Mrs. Denworth has a strong religious 
conviction against suicide.” 

“I . . . see,” Denworth said softly. So that 
was it. The power of the sigil was strong, but 
there were stronger things. At least, it had 
not worked on Agatha. Yet her death was not 
really necessary. She could easily be induced 
to give her money to Denworth. Agatha had 
no burning desire for wealth, and giving it up 
would not conflict with any deeply rooted emo- 
tions of her own. 

So the plan must be changed. Fair enough. 
The immediate danger was Fennel. For he 
seemed unaffected by the sigil. 

“I’ll see that my wife is taken to a physi- 
cian,” Denworth said. 

Fennel grunted. “Have you ever studied 
hypnotism, by any chance? No? Well — ” 
He didn’t look convinced. 

“What are you driving at?” Denworth asked, 
leaning back in his chair. “Trying to create 
a mystery? My wife hasn’t felt well lately. 
She’s been despondent. People commit sui- 
cide sometimes.” 

“The curious thing,” Fennel said, “is that 
both Simon and Mrs. Denworth seemed rather 
impossibly attached to you. I’ve heard ru- 
mors about you around town, and I know the 
boys at your club. You’re not a likable man. 
Also, Simon has always disliked you — till now.” 
“Oh?” . .■ 

“I’m not superstitious. I came up here be- 
cause Simon was worried, and didn’t know 
why. He seems tom between two desires. 
He thinks a great deal of both you and your 
wife, and for some reason those emotions are 
diametrically opposed. No, I’m not super- 
stitious, Denworth, but since I saw you, I’ve 
decided that you’re a damned dangerous man.” 



UNKNOWN WORLDS 124 

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“Indeed ?” Den worth said silkily, his eye- 
brows lifted. “Do you wish to arrest me?” 
“No.” . 

“You couldn’t, could you? Don’t you . . , 
ah . . . rather look on me as a son?” 

“Yes,” Fennel said, not a muscle of his face 
changing. “Oddly enough, that’s true. It’s 
why I’m worried. Why I suspect that some- 
thing’s very wrong indeed. My emotions are 
pretty stable. I’ve gone off balance now, and 
I don’t like it.” 

“You wouldn’t do anything to harm me, 
though,” Denworth said confidently. 

He was due for a surprise. Fennel shifted 
his cigar and shook his head solemnly. 

“Abraham loved Isaac,” he said, a sudden 
fanaticism glowing in his deep-set eyes. “Re- 
member? ‘And Abraham stretched forth his 
hand, and took the knife to slay his son.’ There 
are stronger things than love, Mr. Denworth. 
Duty, for example. I — rather worship the 
law.” 

The two men’s glances locked in silent bat- 
tle. Denworth said, “Are you threatening 
me?” 

“I have no sympathy for criminals. You, 
I think, are either a criminal, or potentially 
one. I suspect hypnotism. I don’t know, of 
course. My point is that you’d better think 
twice before—” He didn’t finish. 



“There’s no point in prolonging this inter- 
view,” Denworth grunted, rising. The chief 
of police stood up also, relighting his cigar. 
From under shaggy brows he slanted, a keen 
glance at the other. 

“As you like. I’m merely serving warning. 
If you’re innocent, you won’t be insulted. If 
you’ve been up to skulduggery, stop it. Be- 
cause the law has no emotions.” 

“Juries have.” 

Fennel’s lips clamped together. “That’s 
true. If you try any more of your damned 
hypnotism, I hope you’ll succeed in committing 
a murder. Because then I’ll be justified in 
shooting you through the heart.” 

“Get out!” Denworth said, white dents show- 
ing on his nostrils. He leaned forward, grip- 
ping the edge of the desk hard. 

Fennel opened the door. “I’m going. Re- 
member, though, I’ll be keeping my eye on 
you. And don’t depend on hypnotism to see 
you through.” 

“Get out!” 

“I could not love thee, dear, so much — ” 
Fennel said, with a crooked grin, and went 
out. The door swung shut behind him. 

Denworth dropped into his chair, pressing 
his teeth together till his temples ached. He 
glared at the sigil, feeling an impulse to tear 



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it off. But he repressed his fury. No use 
making a bad job worse. Its power was lim- 
ited; fair enough. A jack plane will not smooth 
metal, but it has its own purpose. Den worth 
had simply overestimated the sigil’s capabili- 
ties. 

Agatha had not committed suicide, because 
her religion forbade it. Simon Henderson had 
spoken, though guardedly, to Fennel, because 
of his deep affection for Agatha. And Fennel 
himself— 

The law was his justification, his idol, his 
raison d’etre. He would sacrifice Isaac for his 
god. Denworth. shivered uncomfortably. Fen-, 
nel was too fanatical for his taste. He really 
feared the quiet, gray little man, sensing in 
him a remorseless enemy. 

“Each man kills the thing he loves — ” The 
quotation did not cheer Denworth. 

Well, he still had the sigil. And he would 
have to walk warily, for a while at least. 
Abruptly he felt a violent longing for Myra 
Valentine, for the drug her nearness provided. 
He went angrily to the door and swung it 
wide. There was no sign of Fennel. 

Myra had given him a key. It took him 
ten minutes to go by taxicab to her apart- 
ment, and a long twenty seconds for the ele- 
vator to reach the tenth floor. And there was 
an eternity as the key turned in the lock. 

The maid would be out, he remembered; 
Myra had said that this was her afternoon off. 
He went into the apartment. The living room 
was empty. 

“Myra!” he called. 

Then, in a corner, something stirred. With 
a sense of abysmal shock Denworth saw that 
Myra had been crouching on the floor, on hands 
and knees. She stood up, with a slow, timeless 
motion. Shadows veiled' her face. She did 
not speak. 

And, behind Denworth, something tittered 
shrilly. The low whisper of Turzee said: 

“So there is nothing you love, Denworth? 
Nothing?” 

“Myra,” the man snapped, his voice harsh 
with fear. "Myra!” 

“We cannot harm you, Denworth. But we 
have taken her Under the Hill.” 

Denworth reached the girl in a stride, his 
fingers clamping cruelly on her arm. He 
dragged her into the light from the window. 
She made no resistance, following him un- 
complainingly. 

The red glow of sunset fell on her face. In 



UNKNOWN WORLDS 126 - 

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the horrible silence the eager, satiated snigger- 
ing of Turzee fell like the goblin laughter of 
a brooklet. 

It was Myra’s eyes, mostly, that — 

It was the look in her eyes. 

It was the memory, in her eyes, of what 
she had seen. 

And Turzee tittered. “Under the Hill. She 
has been Under the Hill. She has seen the 
splendors there. She has seen the hall where 
we toasted Eve on the night of wrath. Tell 
your lover what you have seen, Myra Valen- 
tine.” 

Myra’s lips parted. She began to speak, 
softly and distinctly. Denworth said, “Don’t!” 

She stopped, but he could still look into 
her eyes. Something quite horrible had hap- 
pened to Myra. 

The red sunlight flashed on the Love sigil. 
Myra saw it. She walked straight toward 
Denworth, her arms extended. 

And that was unsupportable. Denworth felt 
that he knew something of the horror that had 
touched Eve, the ultimate blasphemy. There 
are changes too subtle and illogical to be more 
than sensed; Myra had suffered such a change. 

Denworth stumbled back. Myra followed. 
The Love sigil drew her. 

Turzee, invisible above them, tittered ma- 
liciously. 

Denworth whirled and raced to the door. 
It stuck, and, as he wrenched at the knob, 
Myra’s arms slipped about his neck. The 
touch of her struck flame to the smoldering 
tinder of madness. He cried out inarticulately 
as he whirled, and— and — 

She was dead. Blood rilled from her red 
hair, staining it darkly, fingering out toward 
the heavy bronze ash tray on the carpet. She 
was dead. 



“And will you give me the sigil now?” Turzee 
whispered. 

Denworth opened the door and slipped out 
into the hall. His brain seemed bathed in icy 
flames. Yet it affected him like liquor; he did 
not show it outwardly. He went down in the 
elevator with scarcely a glance at the opera- 
tor; he asked the doorman to call him a taxi. 

“Where to, pal? This is on me.” 

“Anywhere. Anywhere. Just drive around 
a bit/’ 

He leaned back, closing his eyes. Turzee, 
at least, was gone, or seemed to be. Myra — 

He turned his mind from the thought. There 
were more important matters at hand. He 
was in immediate danger. It was necessary to 
leave town. At least, the sigil would help him 
there — help him to find friends. 

He had failed. The power of the bracelet 
had not been enough. If only he had pos- 
sessed a few additional talismans — 

Wayland Smith! 

He leaned forward.- “Drive up Sycamore. 
The eight hundred block.” 

“O. K., pal.” 

Wayland Smith, of course. Why hadn’t he 
thought of it before? Smith made charms — 
Turzee had said so. A bottomless purse — 
what \^ere the others? Denworth couldn’t re- 
member. It didn’t matter. There were cer- 
tainly a number of powerful charms in the 
pixy shop, and if Denworth could get his 
hands on even a few of them, his troubles 
would be over. 

The current catastrophe might be a blessing 
very much is disguise. Even Myra — She 
had begun to show the possessiveness that Den- 
worth hated so much. She would have grown 




127 UNKNOWN WORLDS 

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worse. No, life with her wouldn’t have been “Not exactly.” Smith' cast a . furtive glance 
completely happy. at the curtains. “Your wife’s attorney called 

The face of Fennel flashed into his mind, Fennel, but he was pretty skeptical. Turzee 
together with a picture of the weapon that got rid of his skepticism through the Buckle, 
had killed Myra. Fingerprints. Legal evi- Naturally Fennel doesn’t know what it’s all 
dence. The elevator operator, the doorman — about, but in his mind it’s boiled down to a 
they had seen Den worth enter and leave the hunch. He’s the kind of man who acts on 
apartment building. hunches.” 

Fennel — Denworth nodded. “I see. And I also see 

that you’re talking to gain time. Why?” 

The taxi stopped. As Denworth got out* “I — Turzee /” * 

he glanced up at the swinging shutter that There was no answer. Denworth smiled, 

said, “H. R. H. Oberon.” Then he was hur- “All right. Another reason for me to hurry, 

rying across the sidewalk in the gathering dusk, I want some charms, Smith. Good, powerful 
pushing open the door, descending the stairs — charms. I want one to protect me from dam 
Wayland Smith had not yet turned on the ger. I want one that’ll change my appearance, 
lights. The interior of the shop was dim, and One to provide me with money — all I need; 
Denworth could see, -only the white oval of . And a deadly, undetectable weapon.” 
the man’s face. He turned hurriedly and van- “I won’t.” Smith’s weak chin tried to jut. 

ished through curtains at the rear of the “You will. Because you love me. Eh?” 

room. The other looked ready to cry. “Denworth, 

Denworth was at his heels, grinning unpleas- please! I can’t! Fm in a position of trust, 
antly. He caromed off a table, knocking it I simply — ” 

over. Tiny metal objects clinked on the floor. “First, protection.” Denworth ignored 

He pushed through the draperies. Smith’s pleas. “What’s over here?” He went 

' This was Smith’s workroom, apparently, to the workbench, holding the shopkeeper 

What looked like a jeweler’s bench was set up firmly by the arm. “This? What is it?” 
against the wall. There was an army cot, “A chameleon bead. It enables' you to 

mussy and unmade, and a table covered with change color.” 

dirty dishes. Cobwebs hung from the ceiling; “No good,” Denworth said. “What’s this?” 
dust rills were everywhere. Smith might keep He picked up a ring in which three blue pearls 
his shop clean, but he wasted no time in this were set. Smith’s face changed, 
room. “Nothing — ” 

Light came through three large, frosted-glass “Don’t lie. What power has it got?” 
windows. Smith was hurrying toward a door* “It . . . it’s the Protean Ring. You get 
at the rear. Denworth’s hand closed on the three wishes a day.” 

. man’s shoulder and jerked him around. The * “Three wishes!” 

flat, pale,, freckled face was frightened. “Specialized* ones, I mean. You can change, 

“What’s your hurry, Smith?” Denworth your shape while you wear it.” 
asked. Denworth slipped the ring on his finger. 

“I . . . I — ” “You just wish? Aloud?” 

“Maybe I’ve come to give you your brace- “Aloud or mentally. It doesn’t matter.” 
let back.” Smith chewed his lower lip. “Please don’t take 

Smith licked his lips. “I know why you’ve it! It’s promised to Titania — ” 
come. I’ve been watching. Turzee said — ” Denworth said, “I want to be a ... a lion.” 

“What?” " It worked. He no longer stood upright. 

“He said the chief of police would settle His head was at the level of Smith’s middle, 
your hash, but I wasn’t so sure.” Screwing his head around, he took in a muscu- 

Denworth whistled soundlessly. “Turzee got lar, tawny body, finished off by a sinuous. 
Fennel after me? Is that what you mean? tufted tail. 

But — good Lord!— that’s crazy!” Smith ran toward the door. With a bound 

Smith fingered his chin. “He used the Tele- Denworth headed him off. He roared softly, 
path Buckle. „ Implanted suspicions in Fen- “Change me back,” he thought, and instantly 
nel’s mind. But I knew it wouldn’t work.” was his former self. The ring was still on his 
“It did work,” Denworth growled. “So finger. Two of the blue pearls had turned coal 
that’s how Fennel got on the trail,” black. 

UNKNOWN WORLDS 128 . 



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“That's two wishes/' he nodded. “I still 
have one, eh?” 

Smith was shaking. “Yes. Till midnight. 
Then you have three more. The pearls will 
turn blue again. Denworth, don't ask me 
for anything else. I mustn't. I mustn't. 
I'll—” 

“Next, something to protect me against ene- 
mies,” Denworth said, unheeding. “What 
have you in stock?” 

“No—” 

The bracelet gleamed in the dying light. 
“Doesn’t the sigil work? Doesn't it compel 
your love?” 

“Yes. Of course it works!” Smith said, with 
a flash of pride. * “My charms always work. 
But please i^lon’t ask me for anything more!” 

“He won't,” a familiar whisper said omi- 
nously. “Or, at least, it won’t do him any 
good. Sorry I'sSa late, Wayland. I had to 
use the Buckle to guide Fennel here.” 

“Turzee!” Smith gasped. “Quick! Throw 
me into catalepsis!” 

“0. K. I’ll wake you up when the shoot- 
ing’s over,” the pixy agreed. 

Denworth took a step forward, too late. 
Smith had gone stiff as a board. He fell over 
with a crash, eyes fixed and glaring, body 
rigid. 

Turzee tittered. “All right, wise guy,” lie 
whispered. “I warned you. Serves you right, 
too! Now I'm going back Under the Hill, be- 
fore you can figure out a way to use the sigil 
on me.” 

There was a swish of displaced air. Den- 
worth stood staring at space. Then he glanced 
down at the motionless, corpselike figure of 
Wayland Smith. 

Well— 

He smiled crookedly. Turzee had come just 
a bit too late. In the shop were tables strewn 
with charms; Denworth could fill his pockets 
with them, escape, and discover their use later. 
He might return, in altered form, and inter- 
view Smith again. He might — 

Vistas opened before him. He had not 
failed, after all. 

He stepped through the curtains, eying the 
shadowy bulk of the show tables, and then 
dived back in a hurry. The front door was 
opening. Thumping footsteps sounded. Den- 
worth, eyes narrowed, peered through the 
draperies. 

Fennel! 

Enough light filtered in to make the chief 
of police recognizable. Fennel had a gun in 




these Mistakes 



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•his hand, and two bulky figures followed him. 

“This is the place/* Fennel said softly. “The 
cab driver remembered driving Den worth here. 
Lucky I had a hunch to drop in at Miss Valen- 
tine’s apartment.” 

Hunch! Denworth cursed silently. Turzee, 
with his Telepathic Buckle, was responsible for 
that — hunch! Now — 

Silently he went to the back door. It was 
locked. He raced to Smith’s body and searched 
his pockets for keys. 

There were none. 

The footsteps were louder. Fennel’s voice 
said, “You in there, Denworth? If you are, 
come out with your hands up.” 

“Like hell,” Denworth whispered. His gaze 
flicked to the Protean Ring, with it§ two black 
and one blue pearls. One wish was left. He 
looked around the dark room. A shape in 
which he could hide, a certain disguise to evade 
the forthcoming search — 

The curtains shook. “Spider,” Denworth 
thought, and was conscious of the abrupt meta- 
morphosis. He was tiny. Vast shadows loomed 
above him. 

He raced for cover. It wouldn’t do to be 
stepped on. But a spider was tiny, could hide 
in a crack till midnight, when he could use 
the magic ring again. 

His multiple legs flew. His faceted eyes gave 
him a curiously enlarged range" of vision# 
Somehow he was conscious that both the 
Protean Ring and the Love sigil remained with 
him, invisible, but with their inherent powers 
unharmed by his physical change. 

The shadows took him. He found a cavern- 
ous crack and scuttled into it, waiting. He 
was safe now from the only danger that could 
threaten him, the danger of being crushed 
under foot. Even in this altered shape and 
size, he had no enemies — he was safe. 

In the darkness something stirred. It hesi- 
tated, and then moved swiftly toward Den- 
worth. He went cold with sudden terror as he 
recognized it. 

Recognized — her. 

The female spider is larger and faster than 
the male, and she has a distressing habit that 
was well known to Denworth. As the spider 
raced toward him, mandibles gaping, he real- 
ized with sickening certainty what drew her 
so irresistibly to the mating which she alone 
would survive. 

The Love sigil had power over all living 
things. 

THE END. 



UNKNOWN WORLDS 



130 



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